Thousands Rally on the Capitol Steps Against Prevailing Wage Bill

Feb 16, 2015

Rally against Senate Bill 361, repealing the prevailing wage.
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

At the capitol Monday, a rally was held to speak out against the scaling back of the prevailing wage. Senate Bill 361 passed last Thursday in the senate. The rally was organized by Senator Jeff Kessler who has spoken strongly against the bill on the Senate Floor.

Over 1,000 people showed up to support the rally on the steps of the capitol building. The majority of protestors were union workers who were angered by the bill which initially repealed the wage altogether.

A number of Democrats from both the House and Senate spoke to the crowd including Delegate Tim Manchin.

“The snow out here it looks like Christmas, and it is. It’s Christmas from the Chamber of Commerce, and guess who’s buying the presents? You are! You’re paying for the presents. You’re paying for the presents, because they’re taking away the safety that you’ve come to expect after 60 years under Democratic rule. This is not a new agenda. They’ve been proposing these bill for the last ten years since I’ve been here. We’re the ones that have stopped them,” Manchin said.

Sen. Jeff Kessler speaking at the rally he called at the Capitol to protest changes to the state's prevailing wage.
Credit Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Anthony Jividen was one of the many protestors who felt like the scaling back of the prevailing wage would hurt workers and their families.

“They’re basically taking food off our tables and our livelihood; taking food from our families," Jividen said, "I mean, they get voted for us, the working man, they say, for that they need to show it. All these bills they’re passing, it’s not right. It’s just telling us, they don’t care.”

Laurie and Sheila are teamsters from Wheeling, and they both feel like the prevailing wage is good and to lose it is detrimental.

“It affects our wages. The thing with the union is, you know, you get treated fairly, good wages, it’s made a huge difference in my life, and I know it has in Sheila’s also. And just want to support it,” Laurie said.

“You know I can make all the noise on the floor of the Senate that I’d like and over in the House the same way. Politicians understand one thing and that’s the voice of their voters and the voice of their people, and quite frankly I think many of them think they came down here, they won their election, and they have a mandate, because if you look at the votes that are being cast, you know, I don’t call it a mandate, I call it a mistake. Because there are so many things that are running out of there that are not good for the people of our state. I challenge anybody to go out there and say, I can’t remember any of the new majority that ran on a platform issue of right to work, and prevailing wage repeal, and shutting down the seventh amendment right to have access to the courts. I don’t remember any of that, I don’t remember anybody out there advocating those type of issues, and yet those are the things that are shooting right out of the box, and ram-rodding through." - Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler

Senator Kessler says he was very glad to see the turnout for the rally, and he hopes it sends a message to his fellow legislators.

Senate Bill 361 has been sent to House Government Organization for Consideration.