AND THEN AGAIN………….by Tamara Pettit

…….Monday is Labor Day and we often forget why a day was declared to honor our workers in 1887. Two of the biggest unions, the Knights of the Labor, and the Central Labor Union, declared a day where union workers would be off work; have a large parade in New York; and end it with a picnic. Oregon was the first state to declare is a state holiday. Used to be school never started until after Labor Day ensuring State Fairs had attendance from families and students had a chance to show their 4-H projects. The Amusement Association lobbied in one state to  make it illegal for schools to start sooner to preserve the business they got from State fairs and festivals.

……Unions get the short shrift these days..  Unions in West Virginia had tremendous power to elect State leaders.   Union endorsements were highly sought by those running for the House and Senate because they not only supported those who voted for their issues financially, but they beat the pavement for them.  They also turned out their members to vote.   I’ve heard stories of Union members being bused to polling places or being given time off work to vote.

Unions don’t possess the power they once did because their numbers have diminished.  A good example is steelworkers.  When Weirton Steel was booming it had 13,000 workers and the Independent Steelworkers Union had a lot of clout in Charleston.  The United Mineworkers  were strong in southern West Virginia and very few delegates or senators got elected without their stamp of approval.

…….The West Virginia Coal Association announced its endorsements.  It is comprised of the management of  the coal companies and should not be confused with the UMWA.  Chris Hamilton is the president and is very close to Governor Justice so much so that the rumor is that Chris and Bill Rainey, another coal executive, are really calling the shots in the Governor’s office. Their endorsements were  US Senate  Gov. Justice   US CONGRESS – Rep.Carol Miller (1) and Riley Moore (2)   Governor – Att. Gen. Patrick Morrisey   (other candidates Moore-Capito, Mac Warner and Chris Miler Attorney General – State Sen. Mike Stuart (other candidates Sen. Ryan   Weld. and J.B. McCusky.) 

…….The coal association snub of Sen Joe Manchin is to be expected.   Justice is one of theirs..   Although the Coal Assoc.  picked Patrick Morrisey for Governor. Chamber members heard the result of the Ryan Repass poll (one of the most.reputable) which listed Moore Capito 10 points ahead of Morrisey.    In a state which is the butt of jokes about us all being related, I just don’t’ know that I can go for a US Senator Shelley Moore Capito and a Gov. Moore Capito.  Whether it’s right or wrong, it’s confusing.

……..When you vote against a union, they remember and you don’t get their endorsement next go round. I respect that, In my opinion, however,the Chamber endorsement is kind of namby pamby..  My personal example was Workers Comp reform bill.   It was the most hotly contested issue of one session b Unions vowed to defeat those who didn’t vote against it.  They even lined the halls four deep on either side as we were escorted from our offices to the Chamber by State police.    I picked my side and voted for the reform.   My colleague at the time, the late Sam. Love, voted against the bill.

The WV State Chamber endorsed me and the Union’s endorsed Sam.  Imagine my surprise, however, when the Weirton Chamber endorsed me AND Sam.  I was told that they didn’t want to make Sam mad.  I believe I called them “gutless wonders” and told them it was great to go to the wall for them only to turn around and find they had all disappeared.  That of course endeared me to them even more.

……I’m told that the new Superintendent, Dan Enich, and Assistant Superintendent, Dave Smith, have been on the road visiting every school and talking to teachers and administrators at those schools. The Board of Education has met frequently during the past month to get all positions filled and both the Board and the Administration is to be commended to their commitment to our schools.