Ohio Valley. It’s known for promoting jobsite safety, supporting education, and improving labor-management relations.
“We all have a stake in this game,” said Klempa, who serves as Project BEST labor co-chair. “The key to being a successful labor organization is the people you work for have to be successful.”
Klempa has also held office at his local, taught at the training center, and was an officer in the Ohio Valley Building and Construction Trades Council
“Orphy’s resume is a pedigree for supporting working people,” said Mike Caputo, majority whip in the West Virginia House of Delegates, where Klempa served two terms before being elected to the state Senate in 2010.
Klempa said his career in politics is an outgrowth of his long history of community involvement.
“Politics governs what you do every waking moment of your life,” Klempa said,
“Whether you’re talking union member, council representative, elected official, or family man, Orphy sets a good example.”
Bill Halbert, executive secretary-treasurer of the Mid-Atlantic council (photo, at right)
One of the biggest hot-button political issues in West Virginia these days is how best to regulate the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom. A Marshall University study predicts 7,600 new jobs will be created and $2.35 billion of business activity generated in the state over the next three years as natural gas is extracted from rock formations deep beneath the earth.
Klempa serves on an interim joint select committee studying the shale issue and vows that the interests of West Virginians will be better served than in the coal boom of the late 19th century.
“The [natural gas] deals must benefit the working families of West Virginia,” Klempa said. “I view my position in state government as making sure the worker’s voice is heard.”
Defender of the Middle Class
Among the mementos in Orphy Klempa’s state Senate offices, one carries special meaning: the Defender of the Middle Class Award.
“It’s the first thing people see when they come in,” Klempa said. “And it’s there for me, too. It’s who I represent: the working men and women of West Virginia.”
The award is given annually to elected officials who have proven to be outstanding advocates for policies and programs that protect and expand the middle class. In the photo, right, Klempa stands with fellow recipient, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.
The honor is bestowed by the Defenders of the American Middle Class, which conducts research and advocacy on issues of importance to working families living within the UBC Mid-Atlantic Regional Council’s jurisdiction. Klempa won the award in 2010.
“Whether you’re talking union member, council representative, elected official, or family man, Orphy sets a good example,” said Bill Halbert, executive secretary-treasurer of the Mid-Atlantic council.