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Mountain Party Congratulates OVEC Union

The Mountain Party of West Virginia congratulates the OVEC Union workers on their overwhelming victory following their NLRB election.

The Mountain Party believes all workers have the right to organize and unionize as a pathway towards democratic control of their workplaces, and recognizes that labor rights are inextricably linked to the achievement of environmental justice as part of OVEC’s mission.

The Mountain Party looks forward to accomplish these goals alongside the organizers of OVEC and activists of other like-minded organizations.

Read Our Resolution: Support for OVEC Unionization

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Rest In Power: J. Steve Hamilton

Social Justice activist and Mountain Party State Executive Committee member J. Steve Hamilton passed away yesterday on June 15, 2021. 

“Steve Hamilton was a valued member of the Mountain Party and a close friend,” said Denise Binion, Chair of the Mountain Party. “We worked together on various political issues for almost 20 years, first in North Central WV Democracy for America and then the Mountain Party. Steve was a kind soul who worked to change people’s lives for the better and equality for everyone. We were blessed to have him with us for as long as we did.”

Steve was born in Fairmont and was raised in the Clarksburg area, where he last resided. A graduate of Liberty High School and Fairmont State University in the 1980s, he was a life-long learner and had recently completed a graduate certificate from Grand Canyon University. Steve was a camping enthusiast who loved the natural beauty of West Virginia.

Steve dedicated part of his life in Cleveland working for a social service agency that was an arm of the Cleveland AFL-CIO. He was elected as a shop steward with the Office Professional Employees International Union serving on two negotiation committees. He soon became an organizer with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) District 1199. Following this he was hired as a contract organizer, where he held management accountable to adhere to the union contracts. He was the lead in several contract negotiations and represented over 1,300 workers.

When Steve returned to West Virginia, he was an avid volunteer for many groups and organizations including Celebrate Recovery, the Clarksburg Mission, Democracy for America, Get Equal WV, and the Harrison County Senior Center. Steve was both a member of the Mountain Party of West Virginia, a former Social Justice Committee Chair, and the Socialist Party USA. In addition, he was a 2020 candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates. 

“Steve was a powerful leader who continuously organized people to create change,” said Sue Thorn, Secretary of the Mountain Party. “I’ll always remember him for his insights and enthusiasm!”

Steve was a Disciple of Christ who believed in Jesus’ instruction to love others. He attended both Centerbranch Church and Rushing Wind Biker Church. He was loved by his community and will be greatly missed.

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Mountain Party welcomes all with open arms – Exponent Telegram

By: Denise Binion – Mountain Party Chair | Exponent Telegram Link

Recent events in the West Virginia Democratic Party (WVDP) have progressives wondering whether they belong in the two-party system.

Some believe they can change the Party from the inside. The crisis in the WVDP follows a declining trend in the party’s position.

The WVDP controlled state government for nearly a century, leaving W.Va. under corporate control and with some of the worst rankings in the country.

The Republicans, since taking power in 2014, have done nothing to improve our conditions. A system which uplifts corporate-sponsored candidates, marginalizes progressive candidates, and gives free rein to outside interests does nothing to solve our problems.

The working class of W.Va. desires a change in the status quo. But from where will that change come?

Instead of trying to fight our way into a party where progressive ideas are unwelcome, ignored, and even sabotaged, it is more logical to join and help build an existing, newly reformed party that shares our values.

The West Virginia Mountain Party, an affiliate of the Green Party, was founded on the very principles and policies that the WVDP continues to resist.

As a true working-class party, the Mountain Party upholds the principles of ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy, and nonviolence.

Our platform supports a Green New Deal and a just transition for displaced extraction workers, unionization and labor rights, an overhaul of our criminal justice system, and a government and economy centered around the working class of West Virginia rather than out-of-state corporations.

There will always be apologists for the two-party system who will be the Mountain Party’s harshest critics, defending a system greatly designed to prevent the development of alternative political power.

Regardless, the Mountain Party is ready to mount a real challenge to this failing system. The Mountain Party is the progressive alternative to the conservative Democratic Party.

Since the WVDP shuns and marginalizes its most progressive voices, the Mountain Party welcomes with open arms those looking for a true working people’s party.

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See Also From Times West Virginian: “Mountain Party: the alternative to the two corporate parties”

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GOP ANTI-SPEECH BILL SUPPORTED BY DEMS PASSED, PROVIDES POLITICAL COVER FOR ISRAELI CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

By: Robert E. Smith – Mountain Party Communications Director

Montani Semper Liberi (Mountaineers are Always Free), at least that’s what we’re told. West Virginia Republicans led the crusade to pass HB 2933, legislation aimed to stifle free speech by penalizing businesses and public entities who boycott Israel in support of Palestinian human rights. Before the legislation was even adopted by the Governor, Israeli police had already raided the Temple Mount at the start of Ramadan and blocked access to the Damascus Gate where Muslims would typically worship. The escalation by Israel furthered tensions which fueled the present 2021 Israel-Palestine crisis. This tension culminated in the eviction of Palestinians from the occupied Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, using flimsy legal arguments to ultimately violate International law.

Disappointingly but not surprisingly, only one Democrat Delegate opposed HB 2933, which was never drafted with the intention to combat discrimination. Replicated in over 30 U.S. states, the objective was always to squelch dissent and uphold Israel’s apartheid policies. The adopted legislation is unconstitutional, as it clearly violates the First Amendment, which includes boycott as a form of protected speech (NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.).

In 2005, Palestinian civil society made the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) with the purpose of:

  1. Ending the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Apartheid Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of Palestinians to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

BDS is affirmed in the platform of the Mountain Party and was affirmed by the Green Party of the United States the same year the call for BDS was issued. We Greens take no issue with the Jewish people and have twice nominated a Jewish candidate for President of the United States. The party has long stood against discrimination and ardently condemns anti-semitism and islamophobia. It is with a clear conscience that we stand in solidarity with Palestinians and Mountaineers engaging in BDS tactics, which demands peaceful opposition to the Israeli government’s apartheid policies.

HB 2933’s passage in the House with only one “Nay” vote and unanimous support in the Senate is a blatant reminder that the minority party, once again, fails to serve as effective opposition to assaults on constitutional freedoms and human rights. The members of the West Virginia legislature at the present time are -at best- tone deaf to the conditions facing oppressed peoples around the world, but most likely are woefully ignorant of geopolitics and International law.

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Mountain Party Affirms Commitment to Labor on May Day

The Mountain Party, The Working People’s Party, stands in solidarity with workers and their right to collectively bargain on this May Day, known also as International Workers’ Day. Our party will continue to support existing unions and will come to the aid of those unionizing their workplace. 

As we honor laborers, we are solemnly reminded of our past. Nearly 100 years ago, the country experienced the largest labor uprising in its history during the final conflict of the West Virginia Mine Wars. Inspired by Mother Jones and Bill Blizzard and armed by Socialist Party activists, the miners demanded fair wages, the freedom to trade, improved workplace conditions, and union recognition. They were ultimately confronted by both private armed forces and the U.S. Army with its bombers from the first World War at the Battle of Blair Mountain in Logan County. While a loss for the miners, unions would gain strength and encourage FDR to implement the New Deal. 

Today, peaceful avenues exist for workers to organize in their workplace, and we encourage workers to take action starting today. 

As laid out in our platform, the West Virginia Mountain Party believes in banning “right-to-work” laws and guaranteeing the rights of all workers to form a union and engage in collective action. Furthermore, the Mountain Party believes in the implementation of economic democracy through direct workers’ control over the means of production.

And we practice what we preach. The paid staff of the Green Party of the United States, our national affiliation, are represented by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the union co-founded by Mother Jones. The West Virginia Mountain Party has also endorsed efforts by workers to organize their workplaces, including the statewide school personnel strikes, the recent unionization of the workers at the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition as the OVEC Union (organized by the West Virginia IWW) and the Kroger workers of UFCW Local 400. West Virginia workers interested in helping to organize their workplaces may contact the West Virginia IWW at wviww@protonmail.com.*

*The IWW, both at the national and local level, does not endorse any political parties or candidates. 

See Also: The Mountain Party proposes a Green New Deal for West Virginia, to create high paying, secure jobs to build the future economic infrastructure based in clean, renewable energy. 

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For The People Act: How It Can Be Improved And Why West Virginia’s Senators Must Support Election Reform

contact@mountainpartywv.net

The Mountain Party of West Virginia calls on Senators Joe Manchin (D) and Shelley Moore Capito (R) to work together and propose an amended version of HR1 / S1 that is fair for all political parties and removes any political conflicts of interest.

Known as HR1 / S1, the “For the People Act” is sweeping federal legislation aimed to limit gerrymandering, increase access to the polls, and allegedly improve campaign finance among other changes. While the Mountain Party certainly supports some of the changes such as making Election Day a federal holiday and mandating same-day voter registration, many proposed changes to campaign finance are problematic.

The legislation addresses dark money that currently plagues politics, but it opens the floodgates to allow new dark money to enter the political landscape with a new loophole. Money from big donors can be funneled through a national party committee to candidates at the tune of $100 million. Presently, only $5,000 can be contributed to a presidential candidate by a national party committee. Additionally, the bill will eliminate the limits on donations and expenditures candidates can receive and make. These changes present a political conflict of interest that hinders the success of real reform.

For minor political parties, two other issues have emerged from the proposed legislation. The first problem is the proposed abolishment of general election campaign block grants that political parties may acquire by winning at least 5% of the vote in the previous presidential election. This divisive and unnecessary change is an obvious effort to block the development of multi-party democracy. The second problem is the proposed quintuple increase in the qualifying threshold for federal matching funds. This change creates an unnecessary hurdle for minor party presidential candidates. An easy remedy, or compromise, to have a matching fund system that works for campaigns of all sizes is to have a tiered system, in which candidates could pursue matching funds using either the $5,000 or the $25,000 per state threshold. 

Democrats have proclaimed HR1 / S1 as the new gold standard for election reform, while Republicans fear the legislation is an assault on state’s rights, free speech, and voter integrity. Both claims are false. In the best of light, the legislation makes modest improvements to our elections. However the aforementioned subversive changes to campaign finance and the major blows against minor parties, makes this act toxic to democracy.

A much better proposal to what the gold standard for elections could be in the United States is “The Fair Representation Act” that was introduced in 2018 and 2019. This proposal would establish multi-seat, proportional representation for Congress utilizing ranked-choice voting. This could be complemented by also adopting the Clean Money or Clean Elections model that would have fully-funded, public campaign finance for all federal offices.

While we do not expect the major parties to deliver the gold standard, we demand they improve the current system of elections in a manner that creates transparency and trust between government and the people. 

The Mountain Party is the West Virginia state party affiliate for the Green Party of the United States. Read more here: https://www.gp.org/hr_1

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Mountain Party Endorses Kshama Sawant, In Opposition To Farcical Recall Effort

SALEM, WEST VIRGINIA 一 The Mountain Party of West Virginia condemns right-wing efforts to recall Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant of Socialist Alternative.

Since becoming the first open Socialist to hold office in Seattle in nearly a century in 2013, Sawant has been a champion of the working class. She spearheaded fights for Seattle to become the first major city to pass a $15 minimum wage, secure landmark renters’ rights victories, establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day, ban chemical weapons, and tax Amazon to finance affordable housing and a Green New Deal. In consequence, Sawant has been relentlessly attacked by Seattle’s ruling class since taking office, culminating in a farcical campaign launched last year to have her recalled. This campaign is backed by Seattle’s ultra wealthy in collusion with big business to silence working class and third party voices. They aim to punish Sawant for standing up to the duopoly and its corporate backers such as Amazon.

In order to defeat capitalism and usher in a society based on workers power, working class unity and solidarity is necessary. Socialist Alternative has expressed this solidarity to us, having endorsed our party’s nominee for president every election cycle since 2012, and in the spirit of this solidarity the Mountain Party of West Virginia is proud to endorse Kshama Sawant in her efforts against this right-wing recall campaign.

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West Virginia Mountain Party Supports Electoral Reform Legislation

CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA 一 The Mountain Party supports three election reform bills that have been introduced in the State House and Senate. Senate Bill 229 and House Bills 2215 and 2122, if adopted and signed into law, would each make an incredible improvement to democracy in West Virginia.

SB 229 seeks to implement Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for the election of Justices to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. While the Mountain Party prefers that RCV be implemented for all elections in the state, this modest legislation, if enacted, would familiarize voters with the new voting system.

HB 2215 aims to get West Virginia closer to the gold standard of fair ballot access law. The bill would allow a group to become a recognized political party if the group’s candidate receives one percent of the votes in an election for any one of six statewide offices, including that of Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, Attorney General or Commissioner of Agriculture. In addition, the bill allows for a group of affiliated voters to become a recognized political party if 5,000 or more individuals have identified as members of the party. Currently, ballot access for a minor political party can only occur by getting one percent of the vote for Governor or through the vigorous task of ballot access petitioning.

HB 2122 would have West Virginia join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which is an agreement among the states to elect the President and Vice President through a national popular vote. Sixteen states, amounting to 196 Electoral Votes (EVs), have signed onto the agreement. Once the number of signatories consists of at least 270 EVs, the electoral college would become obsolete.

With grassroots democracy as a key value of the Mountain Party, we will continue to advocate for legislation that promotes fair and equal elections.

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Mountain Party Opposes GOP Assault on Public Education

CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA 一 Three years ago, West Virginia education workers set the stage for what would be a series of strikes by teachers and school service personnel across the country. 55 Strong showed the power of solidarity in 2018, striking for a much-deserved raise and the promise of a permanent fix to PEIA, and once again in 2019 over the nefarious omnibus education bill. Now, Republican legislators are putting forward a series of retaliatory bills aimed at breaking this working class movement. Codifying the illegality of public employee strikes, imposing rigid guidelines against “divisive” curricula, reducing the requirements for becoming a certified teacher, and advancing charter school legislation that will drain public resources are how Republican legislators show their appreciation to our educators.

The Mountain Party opposes in the strongest possible terms these anti-education bills. They do nothing to advance the cause of equitable education in West Virginia, nor do they provide the tools necessary for retaining qualified educators. Instead, these bills will simply provide the impetus for veteran teachers to flee the state, opening the doors to further privatization and decimation of public schools.

We believe that all public employees should have the right to engage in collective bargaining, and must retain the right to engage in collective action where needed.

We believe that our teachers know our students best, and can devise engaging lessons without the imposing oversight of those who have never been in their position.

We believe that education certification should not be so brazenly loosened, as teaching is a highly-skilled profession and should attract those with the knowledge and pedagogy to work in that field.

Furthermore, we believe that charter schools and educational savings accounts unnecessarily drain funds away from public schools and place them in the hands of private corporations. The Mountain Party unequivocally supports West Virginia’s teachers and school service personnel in their opposition to these reactive bills. 55 Strong began during a time of deep crisis in our state. Their perseverance and courage rang out from the hills and ignited a revolution nationwide. Now, with the eyes of the country set yet again on West Virginia, Republicans are showing how they truly wish to govern when no opposition is given to them. Undoubtedly, our educators are worn out from having to fight this fight year after year. Only true solidarity with our educators from all working class people in West Virginia can stop these attacks on our education system.

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Mountain Party Responds To West Virginia Lawmaker’s Participation in the Capitol Insurrection

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 7, 2021

SALEM, WEST VIRGINIA 一 The West Virginia Mountain Party condemns the outrageous and ridiculous action of breaking into the United States Capitol Building, in which Delegate Derrick Evans, a Republican from the 19th District, joined the mob in a show of hostility. As a new member of the House of Delegates, Evans swore to support the constitution of the United States. Apparently he does not.

According to WV Metro News, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R) stated, “What occurred today is unpatriotic, un-American and I condemn it in the strongest terms possible.”

The strongest terms possible would be to demand the resignation of Evans and any other WV legislator who participated in the insurrection at the Capitol.

No election was stolen in 2020. If the fringe elements of the Republican Party really are concerned with election fairness they would be part of the growing movement for electoral reform. Of course this is not the case, as real democracy is not compatible with the far-right’s vision of fascism for America.

The Mountain Party, per our platform, is committed to non-violence. We believe the best avenue to create change is through peaceful organizing.

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