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Mar 5, 18

West Virginia Teachers have Ignited a Fire, and It’s Spreading

An update from the West Virginia Industrial Workers of the World about how the spirit of the strike in West Virginia is spreading. To hear our last audio report with someone in the WV IWW, go here

As of March 5th, the statewide teacher’s strike in West Virginia will be entering it’s 8th day over 3 school weeks. Teachers launched their statewide strike despite threats from West Virginia’s Attorney General that it would be declared illegal, and they’ve stayed on strike despite an ‘agreement’ between the Governor and the unions leaders that would have left other public-sector workers behind. The unity and solidarity of West Virginia teachers has become a strong example across West Virginia and the entire country.

Senate Reneges on the Deal

The original ‘deal’ that the governor and union leaders struck was to give a 5% raise to teachers and 3% to all other state workers, in return for the teachers returning to work. However this ‘deal’ still hadn’t gone through the legislature, and the teachers voted with their feet to remain on strike. For many teachers, it seems that the biggest issue was not about a raise, it was about the public employee’s insurance program, and they felt that returning to work would be selling out other state employees. They also wisely acknowledged that the legislature hadn’t even agreed to the Governor’s deal, and might not.

In fact, on Saturday, the West Virginia Senate rejected the proposed 5% pay raise and dropped it to 4%, which the House rejected. The teacher’s aren’t accepting that, and are planning to remain on strike.

Communication Workers Strike Across West Virginia

As of March 4th, workers at Frontier Communication have gone on strike across all of West Virginia. It seems undeniable that the example of the teachers has given them a huge example of the power of a mass strike. Teachers are definitely seeing the Frontier Strike as related to their own and trying to figure out how to build solidarity between striking teachers and striking education workers. We are hoping that education workers are just the start towards a general strike of all workers in West Virginia.

Teachers in Oklahoma and Other States Begin Discussing Statewide Strikes

Over the weekend it also came out that there was significant talk about a statewide strike from teachers in Oklahoma. At least 25,000 teachers have joined a secret Facebook group calling for a statewide walkout. This would be a huge for West Virginia, Oklahoma, and the entire country. Teachers in West Virginia and elsewhere have been very excited about this, immediately linking up the #55Strong hashtag with #77Strong (referring to the number of counties in West Virginia and Oklahoma respectively).

What’s Next?

The West Virginia Teacher’s Strike has already turned itself into a model for teachers across the US and the world. There are real possibilities for this strike to continue to spread, across West Virginia as well as along teachers across the country. For people from outside West Virginia, we think the most important thing to do now would be to make contacts with education workers in your states and help them figure out how to support the strike in West Virginia, as well as spread it to other states.

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The IWW is a member-run union for all workers, a union dedicated to organizing on the job, in our industries and in our communities. IWW members are organizing to win better conditions today and build a world with economic democracy tomorrow. We want our workplaces run for the benefit of workers and communities rather than for a handful of bosses and executives.

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