CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Teamsters Local 175 will join the West Virginia AFL-CIO according to local President Ken Hall.

Jeff Jenkins/MetroNews

A large crowd of union members turned out against the right-to-work discussion in this March 2015 rally at the state capitol.

“Josh Sword (AFL-CIO President) came and met with our executive board and our executive board voted unanimously and our membership were unanimous in rejoining,” said Hall.

It seemed unusual the Teamsters were not already a member, but Hall said the division came at the national level several years ago. The decision to rejoin is for the local union only. It’s happened in other states according to Hall and he believes it will strengthen both organizations at a time when they need unity.

“We’ve got to change the way we’ve been doing business for many years because the playing field has changed,” said Hall. “This was not a state until the last few years where the legislature spent considerable amounts of time attacking working people.”

Hall says the mission of all organized labor will be to oust as many anti-union lawmakers as possible in the next election. He specifically pointed to Senate President Mitch Carmichael who successfully championed legislation into law which made West Virginia a Right to Work state and eliminated the Prevailing Wage law for state projects. Carmichael also drew fire from unions over his actions in regard to the strikes in 2018 and 2019 of the state’s teachers and school service personnel.

“Our current legislature is absolutely being driven by people outside the state, all anti-union groups,” said Hall. “Now is the most important time in all of my 40 year career for all of us to pulling in the same direction.”

Hall admitted the Teamsters and AFL-CIO have worked closely on most labor issues in the past, but believed closing ranks would help increase the effectiveness of the message and would help spent money more efficiently to battle candidates and issues which were opposed by organized labor.

“We’ve got to do things differently and I’m absolutely confident we’ll be successful,” Hall said. “The average West Virginian does not agree with this constant attack on working people.”