(This is resident RidgeCook’s beat, but in his absence and not a single word here on this matter that is important in several ways, will inadequately fill the gap.)
It’s not sexy like elusive Russian bots (in an ocean of bots), Dr. Ben’s table, Hope Hicks, and a possible Wikileaks lie which explains why the media coverage has been limited and of low quality. It only concerns a lot of people in a lowly profession in one of the lowliest states. Teachers in West Virginia.
The WV teachers strike began last Thursday, February 22, 2018 and included other state workers. #55 Strong is the organizing hashtag. 55 is the number of WV counties. (Teachers and supporters adopted red neck-ware and t-shirts, giving everyone a mini-history lesson.) Schools in all 55 counties were closed yesterday. (Mindful of how many of their students depend on the free school lunch program, teachers packed lunches for students and brought them to the picket line.) Reportedly a cooling off period as Governor Justice and teacher union leaders had struck a deal on Tuesday to end the strike. Media duly reported that the strike was over.
Then a curious thing happened:
To their union leaders, the teachers said nyet. But they used English — “We’re not going back,” was their chant. (They also exchanged their red colored clothing for black.)
From the beginning, union leaders said the decision to go on strike was made from the ground up — by teachers themselves. When asked if union leaders would support teachers if they vote to continue the strike, Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said, “We will always support our members.”
The proposed deal only addressed one of the demands, a salary increase, and that one was hardly assured as there is no guarantee that the WV GOP legislature would pass it.
“We’re feeling let down,” said Lori Murray, a history and civics teacher at Spring Valley High School. “You’ve given us a bunch of promises, but you’ve not given us anything to back it up with. When our governor comes out and says one thing, and then the Senate president comes out and says something completely different, how do we trust that?”
Teachers have said they want a long-term fix for funding of the Public Employees Insurance Agency. Until they see that in writing, teachers said they won’t return to work.
As WV teachers have noted, the increasing cost of health insurance and out-of-pocket medical costs would quickly eat up a measly 5% salary increase. And as of 2/16/18 PEIA changes unite teachers and all state employees (Gazette).
…During the PEIA call-in hearing late last year, PEIA encouraged state workers to apply for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to cover their families because they knew employees qualified.
Ironically, this was at the same time that CHIP was being threatened by Congress. It is obvious that the PEIA board no longer has a representative for the working people of West Virginia.
(Walmart must be pleased to see a state following its lead.)
So, all WV schools remained closed today, Thursday March 1, 2018. (There’s a Go Fund WV teachers’ strike. And/or put on a red bandanda (je suis bandanas rouge) in solidarity with the strikers.)
Update: Jake Jarvis:
BREAKING: All schools in West Virginia will be closed again Friday because of an historic, statewide teacher strike. It will be the seventh day of the strike.
Update 1.2 Strike continues
West Virginia public school teachers will strike for an eighth day Monday [3/5/18] because the state legislature didn’t meet their demand for higher pay and better benefits over the weekend.
All 55 counties announced school closures for Monday. About 20,000 teachers walked out February 22, keeping almost 277,000 students out of class.
Update #2: To keep an eye on – 40,000 so far but not yet strong in Oklahoma. Conditions and compensation for OK teachers (and KS and MS) have become deplorable. Note: An Oklahoma law prohibits a teacher’s union from striking or threatening to strike “as a means of resolving differences with the board of education.” But if teachers walk out to protest the state Legislature, that would be different, said Doug Folks, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union.
Also: note: About one-fifth of all 513 Oklahoma public school districts — 91 — have a four-day school week, something that has become synonymous with education in Oklahoma. Many districts have been forced by state funding cuts to find a way to trim expenses without trimming jobs, said about a dozen superintendents who responded to a Tulsa World survey.
Except it was about more than a salary increase:
Separately, the governor agreed to set up a task force to address the state health insurance program on March 13.
though it’s unclear if teachers will go along as the raise appears to be paid for by cutting general services and Medicaid.
Latest chant from the strikers is: put it in writing. Doesn’t seem to refer to the pay increase; so, stay tuned.