“THE WORKING CLASS AND THE EMPLOYING CLASS HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON.” – PREAMBLE TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD.
In the early 20th century, the United Mine Workers began organizing the coal mines of southern West Virginia. For decades, coal companies would send in miners to work 12-16 hour shifts, pay them in company script that was useless anywhere else, and if miners tried to unionize, they and their families could be evicted from company homes. The coal companies owned our forebears from birth to death – and death could come quick and early. Thousands of miners died annually due to dangerous conditions, let alone the dangers of black lung and what was known as "miner's lung." If a wife lost her husband in the mine, her family had NOTHING to rely on.
From the 1930s to the 1980s, our country had strong labor laws that protected the working class against the worst excesses of the business elite. When productivity was high, the working class received the benefits. Now, with declining union rates and the advent of so-called “right to work” laws, workers are getting poorer while corporations are getting wealthier. The promises of trickle-down economics and tax cuts for businesses have done nothing for the working class but to enrich the wealthy donors of both corporate parties.
I vow to work to repeal West Virginia’s “right to work” law and to strengthen the state’s labor laws to protect workers. If West Virginian labor has built this state, then it’s only right that West Virginian laborers have the benefits of what they’ve produced.