CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Eddie Chambers got called out last month to repair damage from a massive rockslide along U.S. 60 near Cedar Grove.
"They call us to work on those things -- we clear the roads -- but most of us couldn't survive [if] our wives didn't work," said Chambers, an equipment operator for 10 years for the West Virginia Division of Highways. "Today, most people who quit working for [the] DOH go to work for gas companies."
He and other members of United Electrical Workers Local 170, the West Virginia Public Workers Union, told state Transportation Secretary Paul A. Mattox Jr. on Friday the DOH should address what union members call unfair wages.
More than 1,000 workers signed petitions delivered Friday to the Department of Transportation offices. They didn't expect Mattox to be there, but the transportation secretary was there, and he talked with them about their concerns.
The petitions asked DOT officials to "develop a wage structure . . . with step wage increases based on years of service to address the wage disparities of our current wage structure. . . .
"Most DOH employees are at the bottom on their pay grade and never move up in the pay grade of their classification," the petition states.
Frank Armentrout, another DOH equipment operator, said Friday the division can't hire enough workers to keep itself staffed.
"People are quitting left and right. We have people working full-time who are on food stamps," Armentrout said. "We've got good, experienced people. There should be a wage structure where you get a raise every two years."
John Thompson, an international representative for the UE, said the DOH has about 600 "unfilled vacancies around the state and cannot fill the vacant positions due to low pay."