CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, has announced his plans to retire.
Perdue has spent 40 years with the labor movement and 20 years with the AFL-CIO, according to the retirement announcement released today.
Perdue stated in the announcement, “While I look forward to spending more time with my wife and family (which includes eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren), this decision didn’t come easily. Throughout my years of service, I have been inspired by the work ethic, integrity and kindness of working West Virginians, who ask for no more than the fair wages, quality benefits and safe workplaces they deserve.”
Josh Sword is the current secretary-treasurer of the state AFL-CIO.
Perdue was preceded in the president’s position by Jim Bowen. Joe Powell served in that role for 23 years. Powell served three years of an unexpired term, was elected president in 1977 and held that post until he retired in 1997.
Before he took office as president of the AFL-CIO in 2004, Perdue was secretary-treasurer of the organization for seven years and served as vice president of the AFL-CIO from 1989 to 1997.
“It has been a true pleasure working for West Virginia working families and representing our union partners,” Perdue stated. “I look forward to assisting as the West Virginia AFL-CIO and the labor movement across our country continues this critical work.
Perdue, a Clarksburg native, started as a sheet metal worker and was elected business representative for the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 33. He comes from a union family. His father and one of his brothers also held the business representative position. Two other brothers, three nephews, a son-in-law and a grandson are also sheet metal workers.
West Virginia unions the past couple of years have fought against the repeal of prevailing wage and the passage of right-to-work in the state Legislature. The right-to-work fight is still being sorted out in the state courts system, where an injunction was upheld by Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.
During the general election, unions targeted candidates who had supported prevailing wage and right to work. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole was defeated, but Republicans gained seats in the Senate and House.
Before the election, Perdue said current legislative majorities have threatened a way of life for his family and other union members.
“They made it a personal attack on me,” Perdue said in an October interview.
Perdue said unions would be targeting Republicans down the line, starting with gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole, who was Senate president when the prevailing wage repeal and right-to-work bills passed.
“I have labeled Bill Cole as my enemy, and my job is to make sure he is not elected governor,” Perdue said at the time.