Thousands expected at workers’ rally on Saturday
By Paul J. Nyden
The Charleston Gazette
Thousands of West Virginia workers plan to travel to the state Capitol to attend the “Mountaineer Workers Rising” rally at noon on Saturday to protest what they believe is an “anti-worker agenda” being promoted by the state Legislature.
At least 40 buses, carrying thousands of people, plan to arrive for the rally on the Kanawha River side of the state Capitol. Some buses will come from as far away as Cleveland. Organizers said as many as 10,000 people might attend the rally.
Ken Hall, secretary-treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, will be among the speakers. Hall is also president of Teamsters Local 175, based in South Charleston.
“On Saturday we will unite to remind delegates that all working families in West Virginia deserve fair wages, job security and safe working conditions,” Hall said. “All workers deserve dignity and respect, and that’s why Teamsters across the country will be standing with West Virginians to stop this horrible assault on workers.”
Hall will be joined by top labor leaders including: National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia.
Local speakers will include Steve White, executive director of the West Virginia Affiliated Construction Trades, and Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO.
Perdue said, “Efforts to loosen coal mine safety protections, bring down wages and diminish public education are threatening West Virginia’s future. We want to raise West Virginia up by ensuring a safe working environment, fair wages and a well-supported educational system.”
Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said, “Education employees from across the state will be there along with thousands of other working West Virginians who are concerned about what is occurring this legislative session.
“Our state’s public education system has been harmed this session with legislation allowing charter schools, the lowering of standards through alternative certification and the attack by non-educators of our teaching standards,” Lee said.
Other speakers will include leaders from the United Steelworkers of America, the Utility Workers Union of America and Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers.