West  Virginia  teachers’  strike  gets in  2nd  day

West Virginia teachers’ strike gets in 2nd day

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, March 8, 2019

Striking teachers wave at passing cars and trucks outdoors Poca

West Virginia teachers on Wednesday night ended their 2nd strike in less than a year. Educators will return to class Thursday, unions stated.

Hundreds of mad, shouting teachers had jammed the upper Rotunda of the West Virginia Statehouse Wednesday. Their goal: guaranteeing legislators would not attempt to tie a raise for instructors to funds for the state’s first charter schools. The House of Delegates killed that proposal Tuesday, but teachers had worried it could reappear. 

“Educators concurred to return to their classes on Thursday. The House killed the Senate expense, and it ought to stay dead,” said AFT-West Virginia President Fred Albert late Wednesday. “The public desires the ‘public’ in public education.”

Putnam County schools was the just system out of the state’s 55 counties to hold classes Wednesday.

Across the state, charity groups scrambled to provide lunches and kid care for students who all of a sudden had no school to go to.

The 2nd day of the strike mirrored the statewide walkout last year in which protesters put into the statehouse to demand – and win – a 5 percent raise for instructors and service workers.

That strike, jarring in the largely conservative state, triggered a across the country motion by instructors who strolled out quickly later in Oklahoma and Arizona, followed this year by strikes in Los Angeles and Denver. On Thursday, teachers plan to strike in Oakland, California.

In West Virginia, another 5 percent raise was included in this year’s omnibus education expense making its method through the Legislature. However that was effectively killed by the Home after the Senate included modifications that would have actually provided funds for seven charter schools, which are publicly moneyed but independently handled. Teachers argue that would drain cash from public schools.

As passions increased, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, called on legislators Tuesday to pass his “clean” 5 percent pay raise expense and effectively drop Senate additions, the Martinsburg Journal-News reported.

A Home committee was set to take up the bill once again Wednesday that would likewise increase the pay of school service workers and state police.

“I’m calling upon you to go back to work,” Justice stated in a message to teachers and service employees. “Go back to work right now. Go back to work tomorrow. Offer this process now a chance to actually work. You’ve voiced your issues.”

But leaders of three unions that represent teachers and school service workers said they have trust concerns with legislators and believe there’s still a chance for more alterations of the complex legislation.

Randi Weingarten, national president of the American Federation of Educators, said instructors basically were prepared to abandon their raises to block additions to the education expense they strongly oppose.

She charged that the Senate added “retaliatory” changes that were anti-public education and anti-teacher. 

“That is why teachers all across West Virginia – bus motorists, school secretaries, para-professionals – have assembled on Charleston, due to the fact that they don’t have a choice,” Weingarten said, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “The only time there was a genuine focus on public education by the Republicans in this state was when there was a walkout last year.”