Friday, March 2, 2018

33,000 Teachers and School Staff Wage Wildcat Strike in W.Va.: “We're not gonna take it anymore!”

In case you’re not following it, check out the inspiring wildcat strike by 33,000 teachers and support staff in West Virginia. It’s one of the biggest strikes in the US in recent years.

The strike -- which began with walkouts in seven counties -- soon covered all of the state’s 55 counties. And it’s now in its seventh day.

Earlier this week, educators refused to go back to work after union leaders reached a “deal” with Gov. James Justice to boost their pay and establish a “task force” to look into their health insurance.

Even though union leaders told them to go back to work, teachers said “No way” …and remain on strike. They’ll go back to work once their health insurance is fixed, say teachers. For years, state officials have been piling more and more costs -- and an intrusive wellness program -- onto their backs.

Check out this interesting interview with a rank-and-file leader who describes how teachers are organizing themselves in each school and county. And how they won support from students, parents and communities across the state.

(Eric Blanc, “The Strike Is On: And Interview with Jay O’Neal,” Jacobin Magazine, Marsh 1, 2018.)
Gov. James Justice
Their strike has featured a rally of 10,000 people in front of the state capitol, takeovers of the state capitol, rallies across the state, and lots of public support for the strikers.

After Governor Justice called the teachers “Dumb bunnies,” educators began sporting bunny ears.

“We come from an area that is known for standing up for what they believe in,” said Katie Endicott, a high school English teacher from Gilbert, WV, in an interview with the New York Times. “The union wars, they originated in the south in Mingo County. We believe we are following in their footsteps. We believe the movement was started years ago through the mine workers. We’re just reviving the movement that was started years ago.

Here’s an article in Jacobin Magazine that gives more background. (Cathy Kunkel, “Saving West Virginia,” Jacobin Magazine, February 27, 2018.) 

And here's a quick video from inside the state capitol: "We'nore not gonna take it anymore!"