Thousands rally to defend teachers in Charleston, West Virginia


Thousands rally to defend teachers in Charleston, West Virginia

Niles Niemuth

19 February 2018

Thousands of teachers, other public employees and their supporters rallied Saturday in Charleston, West Virginia to demand a wage increase and protest soaring health care costs. Fearful that the immense anger of teachers could get out of their control, the West Virginia teachers unions announced a two-day walkout on Thursday and Friday.

A section of the rally in Charleston, West Virginia

This weekend’s protest is the latest expression of working-class anger over social inequality throughout the US and internationally. There are many signs of mounting opposition among teachers, students and workers in the US to the decades-long assault on working conditions and on public education.

Students at high schools in Kiefer and Tulsa, Oklahoma walked out of class this week to demand pay increases for their teachers, who have not had a raise in a decade. Teachers in Phoenix, Arizona carried out sickouts last week to protest threatened pay cuts, and more than 2,300 teachers, paraprofessionals and clerical-technical staff in Pittsburgh voted last week to authorize a strike over class sizes and demand support for early childhood teachers.

Since early February, teachers across West Virginia have been carrying out countywide walkouts and other protests over an insulting one percent per year salary increase proposed by the Republican-controlled state legislature. Neither the Republican proposal nor the Democratic alternative for a three-percent increase would cover rising healthcare costs, resulting in an effective cut in pay.

After the rally, Dale Lee, president of West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) and Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West…

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