West Virginia Teachers Strike

39 posts / 0 new
Last post
syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Feb 26 2018 00:53
West Virginia Teachers Strike

'West Virginia Teachers Strike'

February 25, 2018, by West Virginia Correspondent[

In March, 1990, West Virginia school teachers staged an 11-day strike over pay
at the end the state legislature’s regular session, returning to work only
after the governor promised to call a special session to address teacher pay. In
a state supreme court ruling that year, the lack of collective [...]

You may view the latest post at
http://ideasandaction.info/2018/02/west-virginia-teachers-strike/

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Feb 26 2018 16:38

Every public school in West Virginia is closed

https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/26/health/west-virginia-map-school-closings-trnd/index.html

zugzwang
Offline
Joined: 25-11-16
Feb 27 2018 01:58

Interesting stuff, and nice write up from I&A.

Seems the teachers' strike interrupted free meal distribution for some students, but it looks like food banks and other organizations are compensating for that. That would be interesting if the recent walkouts and teachers' strike linked up.

http://wvmetronews.com/2018/02/20/food-backpacks-going-out-across-state-ahead-of-planned-teacher-school-service-worker-walkouts/

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Feb 27 2018 03:56

Actually.....

Teachers, etc did provide food bags to students. Apparently only for what they thought would be a two day strike. But the forethought and knowledge of WV poverty and being from the communities they serve,put the teachers in a position of both caring for their students beyond just reading' and writing' and basic human solidarity.

Before they went on strike, West Virginia teachers packed bags to make sure kids didn't go hungry

Story continued .... https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/26/us/iyw-striking-teachers-feed-students-trnd/index.html

zugzwang
Offline
Joined: 25-11-16
Feb 27 2018 04:32

I actually meant to include teachers in my previous comment. I would imagine they're working with other organizations to help distribute food, as well as purchasing food themselves it seems. And apparently local businesses have chipped in as well. I was only commending how these organizations, teachers etc. are not letting students starve with schools being closed.

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Feb 27 2018 11:54

This from WV wobs looks good, not had time to read it all in detail yet tho: https://itsgoingdown.org/west-virginia-extend-strike-build-long-term-power/

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Feb 27 2018 22:05

An interesting overview....

West Virginia Rises -
A teacher work stoppage has shuttered schools across the state—with ramifications for workers everywhere.

By SARAH JONES ...... https://newrepublic.com/article/147215/west-virginia-rises

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Feb 28 2018 03:40

Possible end of teachers strike.....

5 percent raise for teachers; classes to resume Thursday full story...

http://www.herald-dispatch.com/_zapp/justice-proposes-percent-raise-for-teachers-classes-to-resume-thursday/article_18a7cc26-1c15-11e8-89c0-7f03cbc59c7a.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Feb 28 2018 07:34

Response from WV wobs here: https://itsgoingdown.org/west-virginia-teachers-rebel-union-attempts-end-strike/

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Feb 28 2018 22:03

As of 2PM Eastern US time, the strike continues.... "Teachers continue protests at Capitol, blast proposal to end strike".......https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/education/teachers-continue-protests-at-capitol-blast-proposal-to-end-strike/article_d824f764-2c6f-51ac-bf00-68f1873ca2a6.html

As of 4PM Eastern US time ....."The West Virginia Teacher Strike Might Not Be Over Yet
Many workers are unhappy with a deal made with the governor, and may stay off the job even as schools are slated to reopen Thursday."

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/west-virginia-teacher-strike-might-not-be-over-yet_us_5a970a85e4b0e6a5230453f0

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Mar 1 2018 08:22

WV teachers saying all 55 counties still closed! https://mobile.twitter.com/WV55United/status/969052527412039681

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Mar 1 2018 10:38

New report up on IGD: https://itsgoingdown.org/wildcat-roars-west-virginia-teachers-stay-strike/

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Mar 1 2018 23:23

Onward WV....the struggle continues.... All 55 counties continue g the fight.....

Quote:
All 55 counties close Friday, extending work stoppage

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — All 55 counties have announced closures for school Friday, marking seven days without classes since a statewide work stoppage began Feb. 22.

Continued.... http://wchstv.com/news/local/counties-announce-school-closures-for-friday-extending-work-stoppage

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Mar 3 2018 14:13

More from IGD: The IWW suggest some ways to support and spread the strike
New audio interview with a striking teacher

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
Offline
Joined: 27-07-07
Mar 4 2018 17:12

From Anti-Capital (which includes former prolific posters on libcom):

2 Strikes, 1 Struggle: The Significance of the Communications Workers Strike in West Virginia

March 4, 2018

At 12:01am today, Sunday March 4, 1400 workers across the state of West Virginia and in Ashburn, Virginia have struck Frontier Communications, the regional phone and internet company.

Frontier got its start in the telecommunications market primarily in underserved rural regions of the United States. In 2009-10, Frontier purchased Verizon’s West Virginia operations, which Verizon had taken over when Bell Telephone broke up. Since then, Frontier has chiseled the communications workers, laying off hundreds of skilled technicians, refused to invest in infrastructure upgrades and allowed the company’s reputation to become perhaps the most hated company in West Virginia. Hell, it’s bad enough for ConsumerAffairs to call this large national corporation and industry player an “unaccredited brand“.

As of 12:01am today, there are now 2 statewide strikes in West Virginia. Even though the negotiations between the Communications Workers of America members and Frontier have been ongoing for 10 months for a new collective bargaining agreement, it seems likely that the statewide strike by public school workers has played a role in the decision to strike (and to strike now).

We see something similar across the state line in Pennsylvania. Just prior to the West Virginia public school workers’ strike, 3000 American Federation of Teachers members in the Pittsburgh school district took a strike authorization vote when negotiations stalled. The workers voted, “2,309 in favor and 144 against striking, as 94 percent of the union members voted in favor of the authorization” on February 12. It isn’t a coincidence that a new contract was agreed to and ratified by the workers on February 28, when just over the border in West Virginia the teachers and public school workers had been out on strike for nearly a week. The material gains won through collective bargaining in Pittsburgh were underwritten by their counterparts in West Virginia who are walking the picket line.

These are the tangible results of the illegal statewide strike in West Virginia. It is giving real, measurable confidence to the working-class. It is the first major episode of traditional-workplace-based-resistance to the Trump administration and its allies in local governments across the country.

After November 2016, the main narrative peddled across the political spectrum was that West Virginia represented “Trumpland”; that West Virginia was the best example of the so-called “white working-class” who supported the wave of reaction sweeping the country. I didn’t believe that then (and wrote as much at the time of the election) and now we are witnessing the first major workplace-based opposition to the policies of the Trump administration and its local affiliates breaking out in an area that had been written-off and abandoned as too far gone.

The contours of working-class resistance and struggle in the era of the Trump administration have now all become highly visible. Anti-Capital has identified the terms of the attacks by the capitalists on the working-class since the crisis of 2008 as the mutually reinforcing passage of anti-union, voter suppression and anti-immigrant legislation; specifically, right-to-work laws, voter ID laws and Arizona SB1070-type bills.

There has also been a growing tendency to combine these attacks along with cuts to social programs (Medicaid, public education) and raising the sales tax rate. As a consequence, such broad attacks by capital directly affect large segments of the working-class and simultaneously affect multiple distinct segments within the class, even if in different ways. It builds on the legacy of attacks on public education and welfare programs since the 1960’s and 1970’s. Ferocious police violence against racial minorities and immigrants is but the most visible form of this offensive.

West Virginia is a flashpoint for the cumulative effects of these broad attacks to create the basis and potential for mass action dynamics across the public and private sectors, among union and non-union, employed and unemployed, full-time and part-time, temporary and regular workers.

That there are now ongoing statewide public and private sector strikes, directly and indirectly affecting hundreds of thousands of workers and millions of residents, is a fact. We must build on this to create a new fact: the unification of demands across sectors, trades, geography and backgrounds. As in the case of the public school workers’ strike, the communications workers strike has made the quality of their work a primary point of the struggle.

Teachers and school service workers know that their jobs provide an essential social service. They know that winning raises and fixing PEIA is a necessary step for the state to train, hire and retain qualified and skilled education workers; otherwise, West Virginia public schools will remain severely understaffed, leaving the state with an inferior education system and inferior education facilities.

Frontier workers know that their jobs also provide an essential social service. Their union has made it a point to present the dire consequences of Frontier’s chiseling, lay-offs and lack of investment: leaving vulnerable pensioners without reliable phone and internet communication while swindling them for this inferior service. Access to communication is, along with health care, housing, food, transportation, heat and air conditioning and education, a right that can only be won through the class struggle and guaranteed by socialism.

This organic growing-over presents challenges for a largely disorganized revolutionary movement. In each specific manifestation of resistance, the limiting factors inherent to the forms and methods of these struggles inhibit and will continue to inhibit, the struggle for socialism by the working-class. We must organize an effort to nurture these emerging tendencies and cultivate them further, to expose the interrelated origins and functions of these attacks on the working-class through an explicit affirmation of the socialist program. The class struggle itself is providing us with the evidence of the material possibility and tangible need for socialism.

The question of organization is the definitive question for socialists today; specifically, how we relate to one another in carrying out our role in the class struggle. An organized socialist movement is the only formation that can facilitate this growing-over by promoting intransigent class unity and in doing so generalize and escalate such struggles.

There are many things that we can do:

Actively promote and organize fraternization between striking teachers, school service workers and communications workers through asking strikers to walk each other’s picket lines and talk to one another; sharing resources and support.

Actively promote and organize informational picketing at other public sector workplaces in West Virginia. Seek to form volunteer groups and formulate short leaflets to bring the energy of the strikes and its ramifications for all workers in West Virginia to the Division of Highways depots, to the water and sewer treatment plants, public colleges and universities, public hospitals, Department of Motor Vehicles and other state, county and municipal workplaces.

Bring the stories of workers in West Virginia to a wider audience by publishing and publicizing their experiences and views, on and off the picket lines. The troubles heard here are the same across the country: can’t afford to eat, can’t afford to go to the doctor, can’t afford medication, can’t afford to retire — can’t afford to live.

Expose both the Republican and Democratic parties for their role in the PEIA crisis, the lack of trade union rights; the multi-year wage decline among public sector workers, their roles in making West Virginia a “right-to-work” state, repealing the state prevailing wage law and how this affects private sector workers; their role in the attacks on immigrant workers and voter ID law that seeks to disenfranchise the poor and racial minorities.

Above all, the members of the 10 Communications Workers of America local unions of District 2-13, the West Virginia Education Association, American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, School Service Employees Professional Association and non-member strikers need support on the picket lines.

[Note: Picket locations across West Virginia for the Frontier Communications strike have been published by the union]

–A former West Virginia public employee

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
Offline
Joined: 27-07-07
Mar 4 2018 17:35

An interesting factoid: West Virginia is the only U.S. state located entirely within the Appalachian Mountains. There is much myth-making about the region where it is conflated as "Trumpland," while erasing some of the highest points of class struggle in the U.S., like the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921.

I'd strongly recommend reading Elizabeth Catte's What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia, where she refutes the pathologizing of Appalachia by writers like J.D. Vance in his Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir Of A Family And Culture In Crisis. Here's an interesting interview with Catte: Historian Makes Case For 'What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia' In New Book

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Mar 4 2018 17:48

In pondering with an old time WV friend, I was wondering if its the relative isolation of WV communities and folks basically working, living and staying in their communities that binds a lot of this self-organization and mutual aid together. Same with an understanding that poverty touches a majority of WV families.

The replied:

"Your remarks on the first matter bring to mind an excellent new book by a guy named Stoll titled RAMP HOLLOW. Best thing on Appalachia that I've yet seen. Here's a review:

Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia
Steven Stoll. Hill & Wang, $30 (432p) ISBN 978-0-8090-9505-6
Reviewed by Sarah Jones

"Appalachia is many things, depending on whom you ask. Observers have at various points christened it the other America, the land outside time, and, more recently, Trump country. But for many of us, it is simply home, and we don’t recognize much of it from its media portrayals. We know it as an uneasy and lovely place, shaped by addiction and ecological degradation and a history of open class war. But these complications rarely make it into media coverage.

Appalachia seems to matter little to outsiders unless it is an election year or time for one of Remote Area Medical’s free clinics, when photographers and journalists who otherwise never step foot in the area swarm to document the spectacle of its poverty. J.D. Vance’s popular Hillbilly Elegy only reinforced this image of Appalachia as a dysfunctional place, doomed by its own bloody intransigence. But poverty is not a cultural problem, in Appalachia and elsewhere. It is a problem of power, defined by who has it and who does not. Stoll (The Great Delusion), a professor of history at Fordham University, examines this issue exhaustively, fixing a genealogy of Appalachian poverty that places the problem in its proper political and historical context. Stoll identifies it, correctly, as a consequence of dispossession. By giving it a distinct pedigree, he helps readers understand why Appalachia became poor and why it has stayed that way for so long.

“The way back to Appalachia leads through the history of capitalism in Great Britain,” Stoll writes. Capitalism is the specter haunting Appalachia. Stoll focuses specifically on the practice of enclosure, employed first by England’s feudal lords to establish the concept of private property. Victorian England’s moralists favored the practice and, later, so did American tycoons and corporations, who used it to gain access to Appalachia’s natural resources. The region’s coal and timber made it valuable. Now the free market is moving on, leaving an exsanguinated corpse behind.

Stoll is not the first academic to attribute Appalachian poverty to the influence of external forces. But his work is distinct in its emphasis on the practice of enclosure and his decision to connect Appalachia’s dispossession to the material dispossessions whites inflicted on freed slaves and that empires and transnational conglomerates later inflicted on colonial and postcolonial nations. Though Appalachia’s “development” lacks the racialized aspect present in the latter two examples, a thread connects each: the idea that capitalism is a civilizing force.

Stoll’s is an academic work, but that should not deter readers. He is an appealing writer. The book’s most significant flaw occurs late in its final third, when he veers sharply from analysis to commentary. Even so, it is a minor issue. Stoll’s insights on how Appalachia became what it is today are an important corrective to flawed commentary about a much-maligned place. (Nov.)"

Sarah Jones is a staff writer for the New Republic, where she covers politics and culture.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Mar 4 2018 17:55

I would like to find a way to split this posting.

A sole posting for the ideas & action article.

Another one as a general discussion of WV teacher-service workers strike.

And if the IWW wants to seperate it's links out for their own. Or just leave them as part of the general discussion. Matters not to me.

How would I go about doing this?

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
Offline
Joined: 27-07-07
Mar 4 2018 18:21

Yes, perhaps this should be split into another thread, no?

But I have another book recommendation that I feel passionate about:

    The Devil Is Here in These Hills: West Virginia's Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom by the late James Green
syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Mar 4 2018 18:23
Hieronymous wrote:
.
    The Devil Is Here in These Hills: West Virginia's Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom by the late James Green

It's a good book, indeed

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Mar 4 2018 20:33

Sorry if this is cluttering up the thread further, I was just posting links here because it seemed to be the most active place discussion-wise, but stuff going on in Oklahoma sounds very promising: http://ktul.com/news/local/oklahoma-teachers-planning-a-statewide-strike An actual multi-state strike wave would be... a pretty big development, I think.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Mar 4 2018 22:24

I'm all for a general (strike).... thread..... And we should do that.

My concern is the ideas & action article is lost
and, bluntly, gets no play.

Mike Harman
Offline
Joined: 7-02-06
Mar 5 2018 11:46

@syndicalist if you're up for it, posting the Ideas and Action article to news (with a link back to the site) would be good. In general, this thread being busy means more eyes on the article, so I'm not sure it's a distraction as such.

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
Offline
Joined: 27-07-07
Mar 5 2018 22:05

Just heard NPR interview West Virginia Education Association president David Lee (who sounded like a sincere piecard) as the strike enters its 8th day — with no settlement in sight. He said:

David Lee wrote:
West Virginia, more than about 50 percent of the counties are border counties with other states. You can make anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 more by driving 15 minutes across the state line. We're having trouble keeping and attracting young teachers.

Also, with the state having a shortage of 700 teachers, they really have nothing to lose in continuing the strike. In a Beverly Silverian sense they have marketplace bargaining power.

My comrades and I all donated to the strike fund (you all should too: WV Teachers STRIKE Fund), which has raised $150,000 over its goal.

Hopefully the school workers hold out longer and this spreads into a statewide general strike. The West Virginia teachers are doing what the Wisconsin public sector workers — including school workers — didn’t do in 2011 when Governor Scott Walker gutted collective bargaining rights, mostly because West Virginia went right-to-work in 2016 so this strike is illegal.

This is really exciting and hopefully will embolden working class militants everywhere!

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Mar 5 2018 18:41

So I figure this thread is as good a place as any to post this (sorry Syndicalist, it's way off the OP), but I saw this in the NYTimes and I thought it was especially interesting in light of what's happening in WV.

As everyone probably knows, there's a supreme court case at the moment about whether public sector employees who don't want to join the union can be can be required to pay fees to the recognized union as a condition of employment.

You get all the standard arguments on both sides, but tucked away there's little gem from one of the lawyers arguing the union's side of the case:

“When unions are deprived of agency fees, they tend to become more militant, more confrontational,” he added. “They go out in search of short-term gains that they can bring back to their members and say, ‘Stick with us.’”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/26/us/politics/supreme-court-unions-gorsuch.html

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Mar 5 2018 23:42
Mike Harman wrote:
@syndicalist if you're up for it, posting the Ideas and Action article to news (with a link back to the site) would be good. In general, this thread being busy means more eyes on the article, so I'm not sure it's a distraction as such.

Unlikely, but I hear you. Pardon my cynicism.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Mar 5 2018 23:47

I've not read this yet. So I have no clue if it's good or bad.

American workers adopt direct action unionism?

The West Virginia Teachers Strike Is Shaping Up To Be A New Model For The Left
The strike, organized from the ground up, shows what collective action could look like as the Supreme Court considers gutting traditional unions.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/coralewis/west-virginia-teachers-strike-new-model?utm_term=.rmQKGldZvx#.qoEdvXG7JB

OliverTwister's picture
OliverTwister
Offline
Joined: 10-10-05
Mar 6 2018 14:02

I think there's something to the fact that WV and OK are taking the lead here. Neither have any official status for the unions. There are no collective bargaining agreements, there is no mandatory membership or agency fees. Teachers aren't divided up by district bargaining over micro-issues in each contract, they clearly have one fight and one employer. They're also thinking of themselves (at least in West Virginia) as a vanguard for other state employees, and other workers in general.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Mar 6 2018 17:45

from the mainstream press....waiting to hear from my old time WV friends/comrades.....

West Virginia leaders reach deal to end teachers strike
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/west-virginia-legislators-eye-measures-end-teacher-strike-53543281

In regards to health insurance, my friend writes: "1 year freeze was done before the strike and I think the hope was that it would head the teachers off. Didn't work. I credit the rank and file and those supporting them with not taking the bait. They are still waiting for final legislative action. No trust lost between them and the majority party." [ 2-20-2018 article on PEIA freeze: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/politics/peia-finance-board-approves-freeze-on---benefits-plan/article_01f256ef-d8a9-5448-858c-a2dc40d3c605.html ]

UE Local 170, WV Public Workers Union holding state worker unity / solidarity rally today and a larger one anticipated for Saturday.
[http://uelocal170.org and https://www.ueunion.org/search/node/Local%20170 ]

let's see what the rank and file teachers and service workers have to say as the days wears on.

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
Offline
Joined: 27-07-07
Mar 6 2018 18:47

There Is No Illegal Strike, Just an Unsuccessful One” by Joe Burns.

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
Offline
Joined: 27-07-07
Mar 6 2018 20:34

Looks like the strike settled with a 5% wage increase for all state workers.

Here's a CNN story: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/06/us/west-virginia-teachers-strike/index.html