CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia union members held a rally outside of Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s offices in both Charleston and Martinsburg Thursday afternoon asking for her support in a labor rights bill.
“If we don’t fight for these rights we’re going to lose them, and we’re going to continue to have problems where people are pushed to work longer hours than they should. They’re going to have less than adequate healthcare coverage. They’re going to have no healthcare coverage,” said Eve Marcum-Atkinson, the Communications Coordinator with WV Citizens Action Group.
The PRO Act is a bill that will reform labor laws and expand various labor protections related to employee’s rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace.
“Unions built this country, and they have provided a living for many working families. And we’re just asking Senator Capito to get on board and help support this and get this bill passed,” said Fred Albert, President of AFT West Virginia.
Capito says she supports labor unions but believes the PRO Act is too extreme.
“I think the PRO Act goes way over the top. It pretty much eliminates any state’s ability to have right-to-work laws, which we have in West Virginia,” said Capito in a press conference Thursday afternoon.
But those who support the bill say having the extra protection will encourage people to get back to work.
“Their right to be employed and paid a decent wage is just why so many people aren’t going back to work for eight or nine dollars an hour. They see the value in their labor, especially when they were considered essential during the pandemic,” added Marcum-Atkinson.
And Capito says she understands the reason for the rallies.
“I think that reason that the protests are coming is to raise awareness, but also to give Senator Schumer and the other democrats the right to put it into their spending and tax package that they’re going to be following up with after the infrastructure package.”
West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, has stated that he supports the PRO Act.