In an encouraging sign of unity within the West Virginia labor movement, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 175 made a unanimous decision this past Saturday to affiliate with the West Virginia AFL-CIO.
“West Virginia working families have been under attack by the legislative leadership for the past five years, and the Teamsters and the West Virginia AFL-CIO have worked side by side to combat that effort,” said Teamsters Local 175 President Ken Hall, who is also General Secretary-Treasurer of the Teamsters international. “I look forward to working with WV AFL-CIO President Josh Sword, Secretary-Treasurer Andy Walters and their team, including all the affiliates and the network of 13 regional Central Labor Councils across the state, to spread our message and build even more support.
“We believe that a united labor movement is a stronger labor movement, and this is a great step of solidarity.”
Established in the region in 1936, Teamsters Local 175 represents over 3,200 members in West Virginia, many of whom work for transportation businesses such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, UPS, Capitol Beverage, United Dairy and Broughton.
The West Virginia AFL-CIO currently has 79,000 union members in over 575 affiliated locals – about 12 percent of the state’s workforce. In addition, union household members and retirees make up more than 184,000 of the state’s electorate.
In the past several years, the West Virginia AFL-CIO has worked closely with Teamsters Local 175 on legislative and political issues, most importantly joining with several other unions to file a lawsuit challenging the state’s so-called “Right to Work” law, the critical portions of which were recently overturned by a circuit judge.
“President Hall has been an outstanding spokesman against that law, which as we all know, is designed to hurt working class families. But first and foremost, Ken has been a dynamic leader and dedicated advocate for working families his entire career,” Sword said. “The Teamsters have a rich and storied tradition known throughout the world as a union that gets the job done. I’m proud to now have Teamsters Local 175 as an affiliated local -- it will further strengthen both our relationship and our collective voice.
“Because of this partnership with Ken, Vice President Kellie Shamblin, Secretary-Treasurer Ralph Winter, Legal Counsel Luke Farley and the rest of the leaders and members of local 175, good things are going to happen for the labor movement in West Virginia.”