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WVBTC Thanks Mason For Remarks

By Staff | Jun 15, 2011

Wetzel County Commissioner Donald E. Mason

BY JOSELYN KING, For The Wetzel Chronicle

Members of the Ohio Valley Building and Trades Council turned out June 7 to commend Wetzel County Commissioner Donald E. Mason for his recent remarks calling for the use of local labor by companies seeking to do business in the Ohio Valley.

At a meeting on May 17, the commission addressed a question from an unidentified Alabama firm considering setting up shop in Wetzel County. The firm wanted to know the commission’s feelings on having union versus non-union jobs in the county.

“I would have to say the attitude in Wetzel County is pro-union,” Mason said then. “We definitely want them to hire local people. Tell the Alabamans to leave the Mexicans there.”

Tom Gray, president of the Ohio Valley Building and Trades Council, told Mason on June 7 the group wanted to thank him for his comments–and for seeking to protect local jobs.

“We appreciate what you are doing to put our residents to work,” he told Mason. “It takes courage to make the statements you made, and it’s not something we’ve heard from any other politician. We appreciate your efforts.”

“We know there are a lot of highly skilled local people who could make a living here,” he added, “and we would like to see that happen.”

Mason responded that he just wants “local people working local jobs.”

Commissioner Scott Lemley asked Gray if he had heard whether firms presently seeking to come to the Ohio Valley were planning to hire local people.

“It depends,” Gray responded. “Some are hiring local people, while others are not as receptive . . . It is a mindset. People from out of town want to bring their people with them.”

Lemley suggested the West Virginia Legislature might want to consider a law to require the hiring of local residents for jobs, and Gray said his organization would support that.

But all present agreed there are some business owners who appreciate the upswing in revenue resulting from a surge of out-of-state workers living and working in the area. The workers are staying at local hotels and eating at local restaurants.

“We need a change in philosophy,” Gray said. “A lot of people here need jobs . . . People come in and help the economy, but that’s just a temporary fix.”

He said the Ohio Valley needs permanent jobs and residents who buy cars and homes from local dealers and support the public school system.

“There’s not anyone here who hasn’t worked out of town at some point,” Gray said of himself and other council members present. “We lived out of a suitcase, then we took the money and came back home. That’s what is happening here now.”