The political action committee of a union representing West Virginia school service personnel, such as cooks and bus drivers, voted Saturday to endorse Democratic candidate Jim Justice for governor.
“We want our membership to show full support of Jim Justice. We believe Justice will stand up for West Virginia workers,” Joe White, West Virginia School Service Personnel Association executive director, said in a news release. “The WVSSPA is the voice of thousands of hard-working school service personnel. We need a governor who will listen to our voices, the voices of the working people in West Virginia.”
White said his organization has over 8,000 dues-paying members, including employees, substitutes and retirees.
He told the Gazette-Mail that members of the union’s PAC expressed Saturday that they felt Justice, a coal and agriculture magnate and owner of The Greenbrier resort, could bring more jobs to the state. He said Justice’s history of unpaid taxes, much of which go to supporting schools, didn’t come up in Saturday’s conversation.
The WVSSPA had endorsed state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler during his unsuccessful run against Justice and former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin in this year’s Democratic primary. At the time, White said Senate President Bill Cole, the Republican running against Justice in the November general election, didn’t return a questionnaire required to receive an interview for a possible endorsement.
“We just don’t think that Bill Cole is worker friendly,” White said Saturday, noting the prevailing wage repeal legislation that Cole successfully led the push for this year. The prevailing wage law used to mandate a minimum wage for workers on state-funded construction projects.
Cole also led the push for “right-to-work” legislation. White has said his union feels right to work — which doesn’t directly affect his organization but will allow workers in other sectors to benefit from union representation without paying union dues — will drive down wages in the state.
In December, the WVSSPA broke off from the American Federation of Teachers’ West Virginia branch. AFT-WV endorsed Justice during the primary, as did the West Virginia Education Association. WVSSPA, AFT-WV and WVEA are the state’s three major education worker unions.