Today, the BlueGreen Alliance released two new videos featuring members from West Virginia local unions—the United Steelworkers (USW), American Federation of Teachers West Virginia (AFT-WV), Service Employees International Union (SEIU)—and members of the National Black Lung Association, including a former mineworker suffering from Black Lung Disease and a woman who lost her husband to the disease. The videos are part of a larger advertising effort by the group in the state urging Senator Manchin to come back to the bargaining table and support ambitious budget reconciliation legislation.
The newly released videos feature workers from West Virginia calling on Senator Joe Manchin and Congress to pass a pro-worker budget reconciliation bill to create good union jobs, lower healthcare costs, rebuild the manufacturing sector, and support miners affected by Black Lung Disease—all of which would be life-changing for residents of West Virginia. The BlueGreen Alliance unites labor unions and environmental organizations to solve today’s environmental challenges in ways that create and maintain quality jobs and build a clean, prosperous, and equitable economy. The new ads are part of the group’s For America, By America campaign.
“The workers in these ads are speaking directly to Senator Manchin and calling for a pro-worker budget reconciliation bill that will create high-quality jobs and provide critical funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund, childcare, and other priorities for working families in West Virginia and around the country,” said Jason Walsh, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Without this funding in the bill, workers and their families would be forced to shoulder the burden of an economy that keeps them down rather than lifts them up. That isn’t right and isn’t fair and Senator Joe Manchin can fix that now and for generations to come by using his critical role in the Senate to get the job done.”
The first newly released 30-second video profiles West Virginia residents who share the experiences of them and their families trying to make it in an economy that doesn’t prioritize their health and economic wellbeing. Some have worked in coal mines for more than 20 years and have lost loved ones to the work. West Virginians in the video urge Senator Manchin to pass legislation that will provide support for workers and their families who have been impacted by Black Lung, while creating the family-sustaining jobs their state needs today.
“My husband Sam worked in the coal mines and he died from Black Lung,” said Dianna Perdue, a West Virginia resident, who highlighted the funding for workers with Black Lung in the budget reconciliation bill passed by the U.S. House last year. Perdue concluded, “West Virginia needs it.”
Residents in the first video ad call Senator Manchin out by name and urge him to listen to their needs and pass a bill.
“Senator Manchin, please listen and pass this bill,” said Gary Hairston, a coal miner for 28 years and member of the United Mine Workers of America (UWMA) who serves as the President of the National Black Lung Association, in the first video.
The second newly released 30-second video ad highlights local members of the USW, AFT-West Virginia, and SEIU. They all underline the need to support workers and families in West Virginia with an ambitious bill. Residents in the video call on Senator Machin to get back to the table to deliver on a plan.
“If Senator Manchin would walk into this room, I would say to him, ‘Senator, my friend, we need you back at the table’,” said Dave Martin, USW 5668 Local member, in the second video.
Residents in the second video called attention to the jobs that will be created by investments in manufacturing in the state and how a strong reconciliation bill can support important priorities, like schools, daycare, and health care. Additionally, residents expressed their concerns not only for themselves and other residents, but also for the state’s future as the state continues to experience a rapid population decline.
“West Virginia is losing population rapidly; our state is stuck,” said Fred Albert, President of AFT-WV, in the second video. “Senator Manchin, we need you to get it done.”
The release of the videos follows a fact sheet highlighting how the vital resources included in the budget reconciliation bill passed by the House late last year will help workers and communities experiencing energy transition, especially those affected by Black Lung.