Form rank-and-file committees to expand the struggle
West Virginia telecommunications workers begin strike as teachers’ walkout enters second week
4 March 2018
Frontier Communications workers in West Virginia and part of Virginia went on strike early Sunday morning as the walkout by 33,000 West Virginia teachers and public school employees entered a new and decisive stage.
The announcement of the strike by 1,400 Frontier workers came shortly after the Republican-controlled state Senate carried out a calculated provocation against the striking teachers, voting Saturday night to reduce the pay offer to teachers and school employees from 5 percent to 4 percent.
The Frontier workers, who are members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), have been working without a contract since August 5 of last year. They face mounting job cuts and other attacks on their working conditions. Since Frontier acquired Verizon’s land lines in West Virginia in 2010, the company has cut over 500 jobs in the state.
The school strike, the first statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia since 1990, has continued and gained strength as a result of a rebellion by rank-and-file teachers against the unions. Union leaders called for a return to work last Tuesday on the basis of a sellout agreement with Governor Jim Justice, a billionaire coal operator, which failed to address their demands for decent wages and lower health care costs. Teacher pay in West Virginia ranks 48th among the nation’s 50 states.
Teachers met across the state and decided to reject the unions’ deal and defy their instructions to return to work on Thursday. Since then, as teachers, students and other workers continued to rally at the state Capitol, the union leaders and state Democratic…