In this audio report, we again catch up with Michael, a striking teacher in West Virginia, who is also a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). We pick up where we left off the last time we talked, and broadly discuss what has happened with the evolving strike involving tens of thousands of public education employees.
We start by discussing the organic rank-n-file rejection of the original Tuesday sell-out, which attempted to get workers to go back to work and stop the strike. Michael discusses the process in which this was rejected, and how people continued the strike. We then discuss the moving of power and agency within the strike out of the hands of bureaucrats and into those of the rank-n-file, as well as the continued mutual aid and food distribution projects which are happening all over the state. We also talk about calls from the State to ramp up repression, and what this might look like.
Workers in neighboring states, we warmly invite you to come JOIN US at the Capitol Hill tomorrow at 9:30AM to PACK THE HOUSE! Don't let West Virginia teachers stand alone! Matewan lives! #55united #55strong #WVteacherStrike #WVteachers #solidarityforever pic.twitter.com/8tUxSC7Kx1
— West Virginia IWW #55strong (@WestVirginiaIWW) March 3, 2018
Our guest also explains that this weekend will be pivotal for the strike, and workers are calling on all supporters to converge at the West Virginia state capital for a rally on March 3rd, at 9:30 AM. Teachers are predicting that either the State will begin the process of attempting to repress the strike and issue an injunction to go back to work, or that the more concessions will be made, which in turn, will have to be ratified by the rank-n-file.
Whatever happens, history is in the making, and there remains massive possibilities for the struggle to not only continue, but to also grow into new sectors and workplaces under one banner. Moreover, as Michael discusses, many people’s perceptions and politics are changing through the strike, and there is growing support for grassroots, anti-capitalist direct action and organizing.
As we speak, there is also growing militancy among strikers and protesters. Jim Justice, a millionaire coal mine owner himself, recently referred to the strikers as “rednecks,” causing many to begin to rock red bandanas around their necks, a reference to the 1921, “Battle of Blair Mountain.” This reality points to a growing sense of confidence in the strikers, as well as an open embrace of insurrectionary West Virginia history.
More Info: How to Donate, Help, and Spread the Strike