UPDATE: After 4 days shutting down the entire state, WV educators won a 5% pay increase, 3% increase for all state employees, plus no premium increases or benefit cuts to their healthcare.
By Diane Isser, Tilden Middle School
In a state where collective bargaining for public employees is illegal and public employees are barred from going on strike, West Virginia’s teachers and school employees have organized to protest the issues that plague public school teachers across the country: low wages, rising insurance costs, and poor working conditions. The Caucus of Working Educators stands in solidarity with these striking teachers.
With the Supreme Court’s decision in the upcoming Janus v. AFSCME case looming large, all workers should take a lesson from the West Virginia teachers who are showing the rest of the country what worker power can look like in even the most hostile climate.
Through bottom-up organizing, West Virginia teachers and school employees have built power across three different unions. In doing so, they have garnered popular support across the state by rightly asserting that what is good for teachers is good for students.
Thank you, West Virginia teachers, for giving us the hope we so sorely need right now.
For more background on how these educators got organized:
"West Virginia Teachers Launch Statewide Strike" in Labor Notes
"West Virginia Teachers Are Showing How Unions Can Win Power Even If They Lose Janus" by Lois Weiner