Attention to our fellow brothers and sisters in UE Local 170: We need your lobbying help to beat back a bill in the Legislature that would privatize the Department of Highways.

House Bill 2720 was introduced last week, and has been referred to the House Workforce Development Committee. The language says, in part, “the secretary of the department shall establish a system of personnel administration based on merit principles and scientific methods governing the appointment, promotion, transfer, layoff, removal, discipline, classification, compensation, and welfare of its employees, and other incidents of state employment.

“All appointments and promotions to positions shall be made solely on the basis of merit and fitness for the position.”

This is privatization, and our DOH workers will lose civil service protections and all rights tied to seniority. We at UE Local 170, the West Virginia Public Workers Union, stand opposed to all attempts at privatizing our state agencies, as that will have hurt our hard-working brothers and sisters.

We are watching other bills that may negatively affect our members, and another big one (HB 2626) calls for the closures of Hopemont, Lakin and Jackie Withrow hospitals, plus the Manchin Senior Health Care Center. That bill has cleared one House committee and is pending in the House Finance Committee, who likely will take that up in the near future.

Senate Bill 7 would limit political activity by public employees, with potential penalties up to and including termination. That passed the Senate 34-0, and heads to the House Judiciary – apparently, the only committee to which it is referred.

SB 11 reiterates that a work stoppage or strike by public employees is illegal. It has passed both houses, and the Senate approved an amended version today (Wednesday), 21-12. The bill has been sent back to the House to concur, and likely will be headed to Governor Justice for his signature.
We are tracking at least three bills we view as positive:

  • SB 245, providing an 11-month window to allow Public Employees Retirement System members to purchase credit service.
  • HB 2117, providing certain DOH employees increases in annual pay.
  • HB 2142, establishing seniority rights for public employee.

All three are in their first committee reference, and have not been taken up.