Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dispatch From West Virginia: Monday, Feb. 23

Our Teamster on the Ground reports on Monday developments in the fight against right to work in West Virginia:
I was fortunate to have my video camera with me in the West Virginia Statehouse cafeteria when I ran into Fuzz Larue, Affiliated Construction Trades representative for the West Virginia Building Trades. He suggested I interview a table of sheet metal workers. They told me how their team had been fighting to stop anti-worker legislation with the help of working members, many of whom attended last Thursday’s public hearing on the prevailing wage.  
“Right to work is nothing but attack on workers and it will not create a single job,” Scott Mazzulli, business representative for Sheet Metal Workers Local 33, told me. “People have the right to join a union. They have a right to grievance procedure.”

Sheet Metal Union members at the West Virginia Statehouse.
Outside the Statehouse I stopped and talked with Jack Lane, a mine worker of UMWA Local 1713 in Herndon, W. Va., who came to fight the Coal Jobs Safety Act. It's a bill, currently in committee, that would roll back mine safety standards.  
“If these rules are passed we will go backwards and take a step back when it comes to safety. And that’s why I’m here today, to tell that to the legislators,” Lane said to me before going inside to attend the committee meeting. It’s activism like this that has made the fight down here so encouraging. 
Jack Lane, who also attended last Monday's rally.
Our brothers and sisters have worked together with West Virginia teachers to defeat a bill that would allow county school boards to form privatized charter schools in West Virginia. 
Democrats killed the bill. I was working in the West Virginia AFL-CIO office when the tweet below came across: 

A cheer went up from every single person in the AFL-CIO office. 
Some worry what the response will be to the bill's defeat, but for now things are joyous here.