Blog Posts > Strong Unions Serve an Essential Role for Black Workers in West Virginia
July 16, 2021

Strong Unions Serve an Essential Role for Black Workers in West Virginia

In her first blog post for the WVCBP, summer research associate Myya Helm explores the decline in worker power in West Virginia since the 1980s and highlights the role of organized labor for the state’s Black workers and how unions are critical to the pursuit of equity in the workforce.

Despite ample evidence that unionization has been proven to lead to better pay, safety, and mutual solidarity, multiple efforts taken recently at the state level by the WV Legislature threaten worker power to collectively bargain and unionize throughout the state.

In the face of this reality, unions continue to serve an essential role for working West Virginians, and especially for Black workers. To begin, union membership helps Black workers acquire higher wages and increased access to benefits like employer-sponsored health insurance and retirement plans.

Further, organized labor provides an important voice for addressing issues of workplace discrimination. Unions have a history of pushing for policy solutions to end racial bias and discrimination, and they hold employers accountable for their responsibility to prevent it.

As unionized workers continue to face politically motivated attacks in West Virginia, protecting the right to a union is both an economic justice and a racial justice issue. Strong labor laws defend working people, and strong unions serve an essential role for Black workers.

The effectiveness of unionization in making our economy and society fairer and more inclusive is clear. Black workers deserve meaningful reforms that organize and protect unions not only to ensure their economic progress, but as a principle of equal opportunity.

Read Myya’s full blog post here.

WVCBP 2020 Annual Report

2020 was a unique year for the WVCBP, as it was for all. As we adapted to the many challenges presented by the pandemic, we also experienced significant and bittersweet changes to our staff.

You can find a recap of our year and learn more in our 2020 Annual Report here.

Child Tax Credit Survey for Parents and Facebook Live

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) authorized significant but temporary changes to the Child Tax Credit and this week, eligible families received the first of their monthly enhanced credits. Here are the four changes included in the ARP that might help you with the financial burden of raising a family:

1. The credit amount has been increased. The American Rescue Plan increased the amount of the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6, and $3,000 for other children under age 18.

2. The credit’s scope has been expanded. Children 17 years old and younger, as opposed to 16 years old and younger, will now be covered by the Child Tax Credit.

3. Credit amounts will be made through advance payments during 2021. Individuals eligible for a 2021 Child Tax Credit will receive advance payments of the individual’s credit, which the IRS and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service will make through periodic payments from July 1 to December 31, 2021. This change will allow struggling families to receive financial assistance now, rather than waiting until the 2022 tax filing season to receive the Child Tax Credit benefit.

4. The credit is now fully refundable. By making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable, low- income households will be entitled to receive the full credit benefit, as significantly expanded and increased by the American Rescue Plan.

If any of these circumstances apply to you, we’d love to hear how your family will be impacted! Please let us know by taking our survey here.

It’s important to remember that at this time, the expanded Child Tax Credit is only temporary. However, Congress has the opportunity to make these positive changes permanent via upcoming recovery legislation. Check out our Facebook Live from Wednesday to learn more.

Congress Must Prioritize Working Families as Legislators Return to Washington to Discuss Next Recovery Package

This week, Congress returned to the US Capitol for discussions on the next federal recovery package. Development of this package presents an incredible opportunity to provide robust supports to our country’s working families, via adopting paid family and medical leave, making the child tax credit and earned income tax credit expansions permanent, and more.

Senators Manchin and Capito must seize this moment to fight for West Virginia families. You can encourage them to do so here.

Learn more about what the forthcoming recovery agenda could mean for West Virginians in Seth’s recent interview here.

Kanawha County Schools Collecting Community Input on How to Best Spend Incoming ARPA Funds

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) is providing states with $122 billion to support the nation’s schools in their endeavor to reopen safely while also addressing the academic, emotional, social, and mental health needs of students in relation to losses and issues stemming from the pandemic. 

ARPA will result in the West Virginia Department of Education receiving over $761 million, with county Boards of Education receiving over $739 million.

Kanawha County alone is receiving $82 million and its school district is collecting community input to help decide how these dollars should be spent to best serve the district’s students. Until 4pm TODAY, the public has the opportunity to submit comments on the school system’s current spending plan. Comments may be emailed to Learn more here.

And for more details on these funds (and why the unique needs of children in the foster care system should be considered when developing the spending plan), check out Tamicah’s blog post from last week.

Picnics for Paid Leave – Wheeling and Charleston Areas

Wheeling and Charleston area folks! Join the Paid Leave Works for WV coalition for free, family-friendly evenings to share and learn about paid leave, why it’s important, and how you can help West Virginia families secure this important support.

The coalition will provide free food, games, and more at both picnics.

Wheeling picnic: Monday, July 19 from 6-8pm at Wheeling Park! RSVP to the Facebook event here.

Charleston picnic: Wednesday, July 28 from 5:30-7:30pm at Cato Park. RSVP to the Facebook event here.

Food for All Coalition Letter to Senators Manchin and Capito + Open Invite to Join the Food for All Summer Book Club!

The Food for All coalition — along with 150+ signees including charitable food access agencies, food system practitioners, nutrition and health care professionals, directly impacted constituents, and more — have written Senators Manchin & Capito to vote to pass the American Families Plan and provide critical support to address food insecurity and poverty in West Virginia. This initiative would significantly reduce the food access barriers and burdens faced by hundreds of thousands of households in our state.

You can read the full letter here.

And on a lighter note, the coalition would like to welcome you to their summer book club event! Join the group as they continue to advance discussions about our food system and how we can collectively build a future in which everyone has the right to nutritious food.

The book club will meet to discuss Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower on August 13 and August 27 at 12pm EST. Register here to receive details and call-in information.

Urge West Virginia’s US Senators to Support the American Families Plan

President Biden’s American Families Plan (AFP) proposal features major investments in K-12 education, child care, higher education, health care, and paid leave, as well as extended tax cuts for families and workers with children.

The AFP also includes revenue-raising proposals that would affect only very high-income taxpayers. And while the benefits of the AFP would be broadly shared, these tax increases would impact only .01 percent of West Virginia taxpayers — the smallest share in the nation — and work toward a tax system that raises more adequate revenue from those who have seen disproportionate income wealth gains in recent decades.

Join us in urging Senators Manchin and Capito to support the AFP and do their part to invest in West Virginia’s economic recovery and fund our future by sending them a letter here.

Find details of how the AFP benefits West Virginia children, workers, families, uninsured individuals, and veterans in our Twitter thread.

Learn more about how the AFP would serve as equitable tax reform in Sean’s full blog post.

Paid Leave Works for WV Story Collection Effort and Letter Campaign

Paid Leave Works for WV is looking to collect stories from across the Mountain State. If you and your family have benefited from paid leave or have struggled due to lack of access to paid leave, please share your story and help us advocate to make this policy available for all West Virginians. We encourage you to share the form with relevant friends and family members, too!

PLWWV has also begun a letter writing campaign to urge Senators Manchin and Capito to prioritize paid family and medical leave. You can send a letter here.

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