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Paula Jean Swearengin stands in solidarity with workers wearing a red bandana

Labor Rights

We unite behind workers. No matter what we unite behind the principles that will strengthen our democracy, and protect the vulnerable.

Labor rights are human rights

“Unite Our Fight” has become a rallying cry for the Paula Jean Swearengin campaign, but it’s important to be clear about what that means. 
It means that no matter what, we unite behind workers. No matter what, we unite behind families. No matter what we unite behind the principles that will strengthen our democracy, and protect the vulnerable.
Supporting industry means supporting workers. That’s why we support federal protections for Unions and demand a living wage for all individuals working across the country. We all deserve good-paying jobs, that’s why our campaign supports a federal jobs guarantee, worker rights expansion and ending stifling right to work legislation.
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Medicare for All

Healthcare is a human right, plain and simple.

Why Medicare for All?

People shouldn’t have to rely on Emergency Rooms as their primary care providers. No family should have to pay more than their mortgage or housing to pay for their monthly insurance bills. And, no one should put off their own care to avoid outrageous deductibles.
This is why Paula Jean fully supports Medicare for All. The health care industry is one that currently profits off suffering and desperation. In the long run Medicare for All could save the country billions by cutting out the middle-man and investing in true preventative care.
Paula Jean supports investments in more local doctor’s offices and hospitals throughout the state so individuals in need of care won’t have to cross five counties to reach a hospital or doctor and she supports expanding education so that more West Virginians will stay in the state to work as nurses, doctors and care providers.
She also supports decoupling health care with jobs so that each individual can decide their own future without being burdened with the weight of losing their health care plan.
Medicare for All not only makes moral sense, but economic sense. Happier and healthier people are more productive people. West Virginians deserve to be given the opportunity to grow and have the dignity of great healthcare to support them.
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Public Education

Education and economic development go hand in hand. Our communities need great and well-paid teachers, doctors, scientists and entrepreneurs.

Stand with teachers

In 2018, Paula Jean stood alongside teachers across the state who were demanding better pay and benefits. She stands strong on the fact that investments in our teachers and schools is an investment in our children’s futures

Tuition-free state college, community college, & trade schools

To create the expertise and availability of reliable, well-paying jobs means training the workforce of West Virginia. That’s why our campaign supports tuition free state colleges, community colleges and trade schools. West Virginians beginning their careers shouldn’t have to start with the burden of massive debt. 
As the world evolves to become more technologically advanced, Paula Jean believes that West Virginia can do more than just keep pace, we can lead the charge.

Support workers

As a mother of four, Paula Jean understands the burden of the cost of childcare. She supports federal subsidies in childcare, so parents no longer have to choose between the cost of keeping a job and putting food on the table. She also understands that we must improve pre-K as well as K-12 education opportunities for all of our youth and help our children gain an education that will help prepare them for a 21st century workforce.
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A New Deal for West Virginia

West Virginia’s infrastructure has been overlooked for far too long. Paula Jean has said, “no one should have to beg for something as basic as a clean glass of water.”

A New Deal for West Virginia

We deserve more than jobs in a boom-bust industry that we know is unsustainable.We deserve more than to be stuck with clean-up costs and health impacts. We deserve a just transition to a long-term economy that brings good jobs for working families directly to areas that are struggling. West Virginia would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of good paying jobs ushered in by a Green New Deal. 
Paula Jean is a coal miner’s daughter and granddaughter who wants justice and a just transition for her family and community that has sacrificed so much to power this country. She wants to guarantee a bright future for working class families like hers, with kids and grandkids that don’t deserve to bear the burden they’re faced with.
We can do this!

Clean running water and functioning sewer

No one should have to beg for clean water to drink… or to bathe their children. Yet we have near-constant water crises across the state, including Paden City, Minden, Parkersburg, Charleston, and more. And small towns throughout West Virginia struggle to maintain rural water and sewer systems, with constant boil advisories and pipes crumbling into the red clay.

Paula Jean will fight to make sure no more children and families have to pay the costs of corporate greed.

Broadband for all, as a public utility

Industry is rapidly changing. West Virginia’s economic growth is stifled by a lack of access to modern telecommunications services. And now, in the time of COVID, our children’s futures are at risk because of lack of internet access. 
If we want to grow our economy and ensure that all WV kids have safe access to public education, we must call for federal and statewide investments in broadband and telecommunications, in a way that doesn’t simply see the money going to wealthy campaign donors and politically-connected companies, while the fiber is run to unused buildings, as has happened here before.

Maintained roads

Roads in WV are in such poor condition that whole counties have declared states of emergency because they’re that unsafe. The main problem is that the large trucks doing the damage are not paying for their share of the maintenance—and taxes keep getting shifted onto working people who are already struggling.
It doesn’t have to be this way. With legislation like the RECLAIM Act, we can invest federal dollars to rebuild our communitie, so working people thrive more than ever before. Our roadways are our lifeline to hospitals, food, and work. In the richest country in the world, no community should have to face a state of emergency over unsafe roads.
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Addiction Epidemic

One of the most tragic developments in West Virginia has been the devastating effects of opioid addiction. For Paula Jean who has had friends and family caught in the cycle of addiction, she knows just how painful this disease is for everyone affected.

Long-term recovery solutions

It has been proven that community-based, long-term recovery solutions are effective in treating addiction. These programs work to create individualized treatment plans and networks of support systems – a key factor in success. We need to stop treating people with addiction like criminals and start treating this illness. 

Address contributing factors

Addiction is a disease of despair. Many folks who struggle with addiction are dealing with other issues: poverty, homelessness, physical or mental illness, and more. In order to combat this disease, we must also work to prevent it. That means increasing opportunities for new jobs, ensuring everyone has healthcare, and supporting our most vulnerable populations.

Hold Big Pharma accountable

We firmly believes that we must hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in creating this national crisis. That includes federal legislation that pushes pharmaceutical companies to front a chunk of the bill in helping individuals acquire treatment and recovery. 
When it comes to combatting the addiction crisis, one of the biggest factors in the way is special interests. We deserve politicians that don’t open their pockets and pocketbooks to accept corporate cash from industries that exploit our people.
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Economic Diversity

West Virginia can no longer sustain a monolithic economy built on one industry. We must expand opportunities for growth and development. Our workers and their families should never have to move out of the state to find good-paying and stable employment.

New infrastructure for new industry

It’s time to invest in ourselves and we can do this by upgrading and modernizing our crumbling infrastructure. We must make our state more appealing to industry nationwide while also investing in home-grown industry and business.
Technology is changing modern economic development every day. To seed industry we must make federal and statewide investments in broadband, telecommunications and internet to help bring access to every corner of our state.

Ensure just transition

The very serious question that faces West Virginia today is: What are we going to do when the coal is gone? No politician, and no industry leader has been able to give us a clear answer. Right now, there is no Plan B.  Paula Jean understands that we must  transition from coal. Paula Jean will fight to bring innovative solutions to these age-old problems.
We can learn from successes we see in other states. In Ohio, they’ve grown a clean energy market that’s helped create tens of thousands of jobs. Kentucky has fostered a burgeoning hemp and marijuana industry, both of which will result in massive revenue for the state and job opportunities for its citizens.

Support workers

Supporting industry also means supporting workers. That’s why we support federal protections for Unions and demand a living wage for all individuals working across the country. We all deserve good-paying jobs, that’s why our campaign supports a federal jobs guarantee, worker rights expansion and ending stifling right to work legislation.

Legalize cannabis

Hemp and cannabis can once again be a cash crop for West Virginia but in order to see real success we must both legalize cannabis on a federal level and legalize production within our state.
West Virginia could see significant revenue from this industry – and quickly. We need to invest in this industry now, so our state will be able to lead the charge in production – not get left behind again.
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Paula Jean Swearengin stands in solidarity with workers wearing a red bandana

Paula Jean Swearengin: Truth to Power

Paula Jean Swearengin - It's time to speak truth to power.

“Unite our fight” has become a rallying cry for the Paula Jean Swearengin campaign, but it’s important to be clear about what that means. 

It means that no matter what, we unite behind workers. No matter what, we unite behind families. No matter what we unite behind the principles that will strengthen our democracy, and protect the vulnerable.

We unite to make sure that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth. 

It’s also important to be clear about what “unite our fight” doesn’t mean. 

It does NOT mean we unite behind powerful oligarchs to cement their influence. It does NOT mean we unite behind exploitative industries to make the wealthy wealthier. It does NOT mean we unite behind corrupt power structures fighting to protect the status quo.

In fact, those are the things we must unite against: a government of the moneyed, by the moneyed, and for the moneyed. 

In an ideal world, our parties represent core sets of principles that should inform the way our government-of-the-people goes about addressing the problems our country faces.

And make no mistake, we face big issues: the most immediately urgent is the pandemic, but we also face a climate crisis, a student debt crisis, a crisis of healthcare, an addiction crisis, a foster care crisis, an unemployment crisis, crumbling infrastructure, authoritarian overreach, and more. Nationwide, about 40% of people couldn’t come up with $400 for an emergency—and that was before the pandemic hit. 

Yet these pressing issues are not the problems our government-of-the-moneyed sets about solving. 

In our state last year, a special session was called by Governor Jim Justice  in order to give $12 million dollars to a coal-fired power plant, seemingly to appease a company he owed millions of dollars to. He was subsequently rewarded with campaign contributions. By contrast  this year he refuses to call a special session to distribute COVID relief money to people who need it. Instead of feeding hungry children or addressing the issues with distance learning, our kleptocrat-in-chief set $100 million aside for “COVID-19 related highway projects,” because raising the taxes of working people in order to pay for his ill-conceived road bond was not enough.

It will never be enough, because we’re paying for roads torn up by industry. It would take  many thousands of cars to do the same damage as one fully-loaded, large truck. Lobbyists and company execs are wealthy because working people are covering their costs. That is the way the system works—the way it’s designed to work—because the execs can afford to buy politicians to write the laws that way, placing their costs on our already overburdened backs. And the more laws they buy, the worse the disparity gets, and the more the rest of us struggle.

In no state government is this kleptocratic network more deeply embedded than in West Virginia. 

In 2016, the folks in power in the “blue team” united behind a candidate for governor that did not share our principles. It was a candidate who embodied ill-gotten wealth, exploitation—and who was widely known to avoid paying his taxes, fines, and even workers. His mines had terrible safety records. But he was a billionaire, and that was all that mattered to them.

Knowing all that, the blue team leaders and even the UMWA still endorsed him [cache]. Their recommendation went far in convincing rank-and-file voters who trusted their leadership that Jim Justice would be on their side.

But Justice is a part of the kleptocratic power structure that knows no party or loyalty. Predictably, he switched parties when it seemed politically convenient for him. Also predictably, the leadership of the “blue team” picked a new millionaire—using the same campaign personnel they’d used to run Justice—one that would attack the guy they had previously backed. And the leadership of the “red team,” which had rightly attacked Justice as a deadbeat coal baron in 2016, are now gathering around to support the red-jersey-wearer in the 2020 cycle. Leadership of the UMWA has likewise backtracked on Justice.

Yet Justice has had no epiphanic shift in beliefs or principles. He’s the exact same villain they endorsed in 2016. He just switched jersey colors for the sake of political convenience. And that’s enough for those who regard politics as a team sport and whose goal is power rather than good governance.

Sadly, without apology or acknowledgement of the hypocrisy, the power structures are united around money… not principle. Campaigns like Paula Jean’s, funded without corporate PAC money, threaten the corporate sell-outs and their ability to profit at our expense. That’s why they’re backing Capito, someone with a 28% lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO.

Meanwhile, the fortunes of our state—meaning the people living here in our state, not the people running the show—continues to decline. We’re one of only two states losing population

We can’t allow these corrupt kleptocrats to continue to barter away our democracy in exchange for money and power. We must not allow our lawmakers to sell themselves to the highest bidder, as has happened with First Energy in Ohio and West Virginia, or to just sell seats directly to millionaires and billionaires as has been happening here for far too long.

“Unite our fight” must not mean that our tent is so large that working people will not be safe sleeping inside it.

Paula Jean Swearengin stands in solidarity with workers wearing a red bandana

In West Virginia, we’re familiar with how the good honest work of miners is exploited by coal barons like Jim Justice. UMWA leadership knew what it was doing in 2016 when they endorsed Justice against the interest of miners–the stories were all public—yet they didn’t heed the outcry and were burned. The outcry is being raised again in 2020 with the endorsement of Capito, McKinley, and other purchased politicians: miners deserve more than just temporary jobs in an increasingly bankrupt industry. 

And the UMWA sees how these bankruptcies are scavenging coal communities. But they’re backing the Big Bankers’ Betty, a daughter of five-time felon convicted of political corruption.

Miners deserve a future where they know their work is valued and the benefits they fought for are not in jeopardy. They deserve communities with a bright future. They deserve our full support as our economy changes, not a punch in the face by “the invisible hand” of a market that itself is being sold to the highest bidder. 

“I am exactly who this ill-advised endorsement of a sold-out career politician ignores: I am a coal miners’ daughter. My family is a UMWA family. And I will not be silent and let my people be sacrificed.” —Paula Jean Swearengin

Capito, meanwhile, is doing her part taking money from coal barons to recite corporate talking points and legislating to protect execs in companies like Alpha Natural Resources, best known for paying their executives bonuses for stealing miner pensions.

Miners deserve communities of clean air and clean water. Capito has rolled back hard-fought protections and—reciting those corporate talking points—claims it will bring back coal jobs. She knows it won’t, and frankly that’s not the aim of the legislation she pushes—the aim is to keep executives wealthy enough to continue donating to her campaign.

Miners deserve their healthcare and pensions paid for by the millionaires and billionaires who wrongly pocketed that money in the first place, because those millionaires and billionaires deserve consequences, not rewards.

We should not be legislating to protect the thieves and exploiters.  And while Capito signed her name to a bill that would secure the pensions, her solution, of course, was shifting the costs of the pensions onto communities by scavenging reclamation funds. It was a solution that protected the wealth of those who stole the pensions in the first place, and placed the costs on taxpayers. Again.

No Moore Capito. The fight in 2020–and for a long time—is not red team versus blue team. It’s the creeping oligarchy of the millionaires and billionaires against the rest of us.

CONTACT US – DONATE

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West Virginia Working Families Endorses Paula Jean Swearengin

West Virginia Working Families Party has endorsed Paula Jean Swearengin for U.S. Senate. Swearengin is challenging anti-worker incumbent Shelley Moore Capito. Capito has a 28% lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO, voting against workers nearly three-quarters of the time.

“No one who cares about families, wages, or the labor movement could support Capito, with her proven record of voting against families and unions,” said Ryan Frankenberry, Director of WV Working Families. “Paula Jean has always been about serving workers, families and communities—we’re proud to get behind her campaign,” Frankenberry said.

Swearengin’s father and grandfather were both UMWA members, so she grew up in a household with union values. “Unions are in my blood,” Swearengin said. 

That’s why, on the picket line, Swearengin has stood with WV teachers and school service personnel, with communications workers, with Tecnocap workers, and more. 

As a WV Can’t Wait pledge-signer, she’s also sworn off corporate contributions in order to put working people first—not lobbyists and billionaires.

“Paula Jean will stand up for working families: that’s why she won the West Virginia Working Families Party endorsement,” said David Graham, campaign director. “Lawmakers like Shelley Moore Capito fundamentally put themselves up for sale to the highest bidder by taking corporate donations to recite anti-community, anti-worker talking points. Paula Jean won’t sell out working families that way. It’s just not in her. She was raised better than that.”

Famously, Capito’s father was five-time felon, convicted of political corruption.

New York Times Arch Moore conviction

“Values matter to this campaign,” Graham said. 

“I’m honored to accept the endorsement of West Virginia Working Families Party,” said Swearengin. “We need people in West Virginia who’ll stand up for working folks. There aren’t enough people standing up for miners—and far too many standing up for coal lobbyists handing out cash. There aren’t enough standing up for gas and oil workers—but too many standing up for out-of-state frack executives and shareholders writing big checks to campaigns. There aren’t enough people standing up for worker safety—and way too many lining up to fill their pockets from our pain and loss. We are ready to unite our fight.”

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Bernie Endorses PJS

Bernie Sanders Endorses Paula Jean Swearengin for Senate

“I need Paula Jean in the Senate with me, and I hope the people of West Virginia will support her,” said Bernie Sanders in a statement. Sanders, who won every county in West Virginia in the 2016 West Virginia presidential primary, is endorsing Paula Jean Swearengin in her bid to win a seat in the US Senate. Bernie Endorses PJS “I’m honored that our campaign has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders,” said Paula Jean Swearengin. “In West Virginia, far too many of us don’t have any share in America’s prosperity, no matter how hard we work. And it’s not just that we don’t have broadband or cell service. A lot of us don’t have even the most basic infrastructure like maintained roads, clean running water or functioning sewer.” Like Sanders, Paula Jean supports Medicare for All and a living wage. “We believe that every state in this country should offer hardworking folks the opportunity to build a good life for themselves,“ Paula Jean explained. “But here in West Virginia, we’ve been treated as a sacrifice zone, as collateral damage, for far too long while our wealth is shipped out of our communities.” Sanders explained, “It’s hard to overestimate the power of Paula Jean becoming West Virginia’s next senator. If a strong progressive like her represented a state with one of the highest poverty rates in the nation, it would be a significant moment in our fight to transform our country so it works for all of us. Particularly in West Virginia, “sacrifice” and “corrupt politicians” is a familiar theme: “Millionaires and billionaires are not going to help middle class and working class West Virginians. WE have to help us. This is up to us. That’s why I’m running for Senate, why I’m rejecting corporate PAC money, why I’m a part of West Virginia Can’t Wait–and why I’m so honored to be endorsed by Bernie Sanders.“ Paula Jean believes that our government shouldn’t be for sale to the highest bidder. We need a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. “Paula Jean will be a senator who stands up to the political and economic establishment, and puts the working class first. I’m proud to endorse her grassroots campaign,” Sanders said. “I choose the side of working people, not millionaires,” said Paula Jean. “I choose the side of miners, not coal barons. Let’s unite our fight.”
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Paula Jean’s statement regarding bounties on American troops

“While Mitch McConnell and his best buddy Shelley Moore Capito are worried about whether it’s politically convenient to discuss who’s been offering bounties to Afghan militants for the lives of our troops—and while their squabbling focuses on whether the president was briefed about the bounties before he signed the Feb 29 deal with the Taliban—the most important thing is being forgotten here: the safety of our troops. 

“There has been no response, there have been no sanctions, there is no action being taken to protect the troops risking their lives for this country.

“We must take immediate action to demand a halt the bounty program, and to enact strong sanctions against the perpetrators. 

“Y’all want to argue… argue later. First we protect our troops. And if congress won’t do that, let’s vote to bring an end to the do-nothing congress and elect new leaders—leaders with values that reflect the values of the American people.”

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