West Virginia labor unions hoping to boost political clout

West Virginia

To the sound of classic Appalachian music, and under a blistering hot sun, members of organized labor unions and politicians gathered for the annual UMWA Labor Day picnic in Racine. One of the goals, strengthening the political clout of unions at the ballot box.

“More people are paying attention. I’m more optimistic than ever about making some real changes in the 2020 election,” said Josh Sword, West Virginia AFL-CIO.

It’s been an up-and-down few years for West Virginia labor, losing the battle so far, over making this a right-to-work state. But, winning back-to-back 5-percent annual pay raises for striking teachers and school staff that made national headlines.

“We need to make sure that labor remains strong. And what our teachers and service personnel did for the past two years has brought an awareness to this country and to the world,” said Fred Albert, President, American Federation of Teachers WV.

With President Trump up for re-election, a competitive race for U.S. Senate, and a combative race for Governor, candidates for offices down the ballot have their work cut out for them.

“Unfortunately there’s going to be so much money spent in these Elections. We’re going to have to get out on the ground, and go door-to-door, and hand-to-hand and meet all the voters and let them know what we really stand for,” said Del. Andrew Robinson, (D) Kanawha.

Organized labor, which mostly endorses Mountain State Democrats, promises to put money and volunteers behind its candidates.

“The political clout of the labor movement will be tested twice in 2020. First in the May Primary, and then in the November General Election,” said Mark Curtis, 13 Chief Political Reporter.

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