For Immediate Release:
September 4, 2015
Contact: Brittni McGuire, Brittni@wvdemocrats.com, 304-342-8121
This Labor Day West Virginians Examine Bill Cole’s War On Workers
Senator Cole’s efforts to undermine West Virginia working families have not gone unnoticed
CHARLESTON, WV—On Monday, we celebrate Labor Day, a day we honor our West Virginian and American workers. It is time to celebrate the hard fought accomplishments of organized labor: weekends, overtime pay, safety standards on the job, and many other critical benefits workers can count on. However, it is also appropriate to shine a spotlight on those politicians, like Senator Bill Cole, that would turn back the clock on West Virginia workers.
“Senate President Cole has been a leader in cutting working people’s wages, reducing workers compensation benefits for injured workers and scaling back critical coal mine safety laws while pursuing his own, self-serving legislation,” said Kenny Perdue, WV AFL-CIO President and WV Democratic Party Vice Chair. “His legislative agenda lowers the quality of life for working families.”
This past legislative session, Senator Bill Cole proposed legislation to eliminate prevailing wage, gutting the wages of hardworking West Virginia families. He didn’t stop there; he also proposed legislation to take away bargaining power from workers.
As we recognize the foundation of our great society – the men and women who build the roads, construct our buildings, and keep America competitive – it is important to remember that states that have adopted Cole’s anti-worker agenda experience lower wages, diminished health care, and, of course, higher workplace injuries and fatalities.
The people of West Virginia have had enough and will not stand by while our worker’s wages, workplace safety and benefits are gutted! West Virginia workers have been through a lot, the last thing they need is the anti-worker agenda of Senator Cole.
Supported “Outright Repeal” of Prevailing Wage Law
On 2/12/15, the Charleston Daily Mail noted that Cole “supported an outright repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law.” [Charleston Daily Mail, 2/12/15]
Asserted that Repeal of Prevailing Wage Law would Save $500 Million
On 2/23/14, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph quoted Cole asserting that the state would save $500 billion by repealing the prevailing wage law.
Cole stated, “[It] would save the state up to $500 million next year […] Taxpayers out to be livid about throwing away that kind of money. It deserves consideration.” [Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 2/23/14]
Repeal Would Lead to Lower Wages “for All Construction Workers”
According to the January 2015 report by the University of Missouri Kansas City, repealing West Virginia’s prevailing wage would lead to lower wages for all of West Virginia’s construction workers.
Specifically, the study stated that a prevailing wage repeal would “[l]ower wages for all construction workers in West Virginia (direct impact of repeal in West Virginia) and reduced incomes for other workers in industries located in West Virginia (the indirect, or induced, impact of repeal.)”
Repeal of Prevailing Wage Would Cost Between $51 and $77 Million in Lost Income
The January 15 report by the University of Missouri Kansas City noted that repealing prevailing wage would “cost the residents of West Virginia and their families between $51.30 million and $77.28 million annually in lost income.”
Repeal would Reduce Health and Pension Benefits for Construction Workers
According to the January 2015 report by the University of Missouri Kansas City, repealing West Virginia’s prevailing wage would reduce health and pension benefits currently available to West Virginian construction workers.
Specifically, the study stated that repeal would result in “Reduced health and pension benefits for construction workers in West Virginia (and, as a result, probability of entual increased costs to state and local communities).”
Repeal would Reduce Sales and Income Tax Revenue Collected
According to the January 2015 report by the University of Missouri Kansas City, repealing West Virginia’s prevailing wage would reduce sales tax revenue collected by West Virginia.
The study stated the repealing the West Virginia minimum wage would reduce “sales tax revenues to the State of West Virginia and regional economies in West Virginia” and reduce “income tax revenues to the State of West Virginia and regional economies in West Virginia.”
Cole Supported Right-to-Work Legislation
On 1/28/15, the Charleston Daily Mail stated that Cole was in support of making West Virginia the 25th state to adopt a right-to-work law.
According to the Daily Mail, “Cole said considering right to work legislation is necessary given the state’s present circumstances. He cited the state’s workforce participation rate – which fell below 50 percent in November – indicating a need for change.”[Charleston Daily Mail, 1/28/15]
Workers Right-to-Work States Experience Lower Wages
Workers in states that have passed right-to-work legislation have lower wages than those that have not.
A 4/22/15 study by the Economic Policy Institute found that “[wages in RTW states are 3.1 percent lower than those in non-RTW states, after controlling for a full complement of individual demographic and socioeconomic factors as well as state macroeconomic indicators. This translates into RTW being associated with $1,558 lower annual wages for a typical full-time, full-year worker.” [Economic Policy Institute, 4/22/15]
Workers in Right-to-Work States Experience Diminished Health Care
Workers in states that have passed right-to-work legislation have worse healthcare than those in states that have not.
According to a study by the National Education Association, “11 of the 15 states with the highest uninsured rates are RTW states. The median uninsured rate for worker-friendly states is 12.6 percent, while for RTW it is 15.7 percent.” [National Education Association]
Right-to-Work States Experience Greater Injury and Mortality Rates among Workers
Workers in states that have passed right-to-work legislation are more likely to be injured and die on the job.
A 2009 study published in theAmerican Journal of Public Healthfound that “political–economic characteristics of states, including state government debt, union density, labor grievance rates, social welfare payments, unemployment, and right-to-work laws, were significant predictors of fatal occupational injury rates.”[Am J Public Health, Political Economy of US States and Rates of Fatal Occupational Injury,8/2009]