February 20, 2006

Council 77 Members Lobby W.Va. Legislature
(scroll down or click here for photos)

By Jason B. Keeling

Around 100 public employees from across the state, from counties such as Jefferson, Boone, Logan, Wood, and Kanawha, joined AFSCME’s lobbying team on Feb. 20, to learn more on the issues being considered and address their priorities with West Virginia legislators.

The day began with an overview of the legislative process by lobbyist Gary Zuckett, who reminded attendees to be courteous and respectful, stick to the issues, tell your stories, and follow up with lawmakers during the off season.

Attendees were also informed of bills that concern public employees, such as grievance process reform efforts, increasing sick day usage flexibility, pay raises, and Public Employees Insurance Agency cost-control measures, among other items.

Several lawmakers and political officers attended the session.

Del. Joe Delong (D-Hancock) was first to address pay issues. “It’s an embarrassment,” that some public employees have had to obtain social services due to a lack of adequate wages, said Delong, who added that he would not support government official pay raises “until we get the folks in this room taken care of.”

AFSCME coordinator Richard Patrick reminded members that political influence increases with membership involvement. “This is your union, please urge your co-workers to become part of the process,” stated Patrick.

Sen. Michael Oliverio (D-Monongalia), who chairs the Senate Labor Committee, said issues relating to PEIA premiums could be taken up by the Legislature this year. Oliverio said attendees had something in common with legislators, both were in need of a pay raise.

State Treasurer John Perdue described public employees as “the backbone of state government,” and he echoed Patrick’s comments on the importance of organized labor. Regarding pay raises, Perdue said “there is going to be a $300 million surplus, the excuse that the money is not there can’t be used.”

Sen. John Unger (D-Berkeley), who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, appeared to state his case in favor of regional pay, which brought about a mixed response from those present.

Other attendees included Del. Don Perdue (D-Wayne) and South Charleston Mayor Rich Robb, a candidate for the state’s second district Congressional seat. Robb said he would be campaigning on the theme of “economic justice,” citing growing income disparities as a top concern.

Council 77 members spent the remainder of the day meeting with legislators, along with attending committee meetings and floor sessions of both the House of Delegates and Senate.

AFSCME WV members listen as legislators discuss issues of importance to public employees, both active and retired.
AFSCME WV members listen as legislators discuss issues of importance to public employees, both active and retired.

State Treasurer John Perdue talks with members and urges them to organize for strength.
State Treasurer John Perdue talks with members and urges them to organize for strength.

South Charleston Mayor and 2nd District Congressional Candidate Richie Robb talks about his vision.
South Charleston Mayor and 2nd District Congressional Candidate Richie Robb talks about his vision.

Delegate Don Perdue discusses health care issues.
Delegate Don Perdue discusses health care issues.

Senator Jon Unger answers hard questions about his 'locality pay' proposal.
Senator Jon Unger answers hard questions about his 'locality pay' proposal.

Local 3224 and 3221 members sign in at AFSCME's annual lobby day event held every year on President's Day holiday at the WV State Capitol.
Local 3224 and 3221 members sign in at AFSCME's annual lobby day event held every year on President's Day holiday at the WV State Capitol.

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AFSCME WV Council 77, AFL-CIO
501 Leon Sullivan Way, 1st Floor
Charleston, WV 25301
 

(304) 342-2114
Fax (304) 342-2441
Council77@afscmewv.org