Walkout by West Virginia teachers to continue through Monday
24 February 2018
Thousands of West Virginia teachers and other school employees participated in the second day of a statewide walkout Friday, amidst maneuvers between the heads of the teachers’ unions and state legislators.
After initially seeking to limit the action to two days, on Friday evening the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) and the American Federation of Teachers–West Virginia (AFT-WV) announced that it would continue Monday. The decision expressed the fear that calling off the strike could expose the unions and cause the struggle of teachers to erupt outside of their control.
The walkout by teachers has been carried out in courageous defiance of the threat of legal sanctions by state officials. Under state law, teachers are banned from bargaining over wages and benefits and have no legal right to strike.
Teachers are justly outraged by the paltry pay increase proposed by the Republican-controlled state legislature, which will do nothing to alleviate their abysmally low wages. A bill passed by both houses of the legislature Wednesday, with substantial support from Democrats, calls for an insulting two percent pay increase in 2019 followed by one percent in each of the next two years. Some Democrats have called for a slightly larger but still derisory pay increase.
Teachers rightly fear that higher health care deductibles and co-pays will eat up whatever gains are made in wages.
On Friday, the state’s billionaire governor, Democrat-turned-Republican Jim Justice, declared that teachers would get nothing more. “When’s enough enough?” he arrogantly declared. “Our teachers need to be in the classroom. The Legislature has spoken, and I’ve signed it into law….