CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ernest "Spud" Terry has advocated for state retirees for a quarter of a century. Other than expenses, he's never been paid for the work he does for retired members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
On Friday, Terry was honored during a luncheon at the Fifth Quarter restaurant by some of the people he's worked with, and for, during the union retiree group's 25 years.
"I am the guy you've seen around the Legislature all the time, for 13 years now," Terry said. "I will be there for the next whole session beginning in January."
Before that, Terry worked for the state Department of Transportation in 1999, after 35 years of working on steel structures and bridges all across the state.
"We tested for fatigue cracks. We did a lot of work with bolting and welding procedures," he said.
Marie Terry, his wife, retired after working 35 years for the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
"Once folks retire, we don't have much leverage," Spud Terry said.
"AFSCME came into West Virginia in 1983 and a bunch of us signed up," Ernest Terry said. "We were charter members. After that, I was tapped to be the president of the retirees. I have been president for more than half of the 25 years [the retirees group] has been in existence.
"AFSCME is a wonderful organization. We are pretty much open and not political. We have people retiring from various departments, from different walks of life. We all get along really good."
Terry lobbies "the Legislature and PEIA representatives to make sure they are aware that many retirees are already choosing between medicine and food and cannot afford increases in their health insurance and prescription coverage," said Rebecca G. Haley, who retired after working 40 years for the state Division of Highways.