Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

 Thousands of teachers rallied at the state Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., last Thursday. (Photo: John Raby/AP)

 Thousands of teachers rallied at the state Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., last Thursday. (Photo: John Raby/AP)

In West Virginia, Historic Statewide Teacher Walkouts to Head Into Fourth Day

"People are fed up"

Andrea Germanos

Thousands of teachers and other school personnel rallied outside in the West Virginia Capitol on Monday, where union officials announced that the first-ever statewide walkout underway would continue for a fourth day.

"Our teachers and our public employees are getting less in pay per year every year, and people are fed up and fired up about it," said Morgantown High School art teacher Sam Brunett at a candlelight vigil Sunday outside the Capitol. 

The strike, which began Thursday, is indeed historic. (A nearly statewide strike took place in 1990.)

The current action is taking place throughout the state's 55 counties, which means roughly 20,000 teachers are taking part.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting explained the reasons for the strike thusly:

Leaders of teacher unions and their members are calling for salary increases, a permanent fix to healthcare through the Public Employees Insurance Agency and a stop to legislation on what they call attacks on seniority. They are also hoping lawmakers will walk away from a bill known as "paycheck protection" that would make union members opt-in yearly to have dues withdrawn from paychecks.

West Virginia ranked 48th in the nation for average teacher pay in 2017.

While Gov. Jim Justice has signed Senate Bill 267 calling for a salary increase of 2 percent this year with an additional 1 percent increase the following two years, teachers and their union leaders say that’s not enough -- especially considering teachers were offered a 2 percent increase last year in more economically troubling times.

The West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy tweeted that the legislation "is not enough to keep with inflation":

Speaking to CNN at the Sunday night vigil, Jacob Fertig, an art teacher at Riverside High School in Belle, in Kanawha County, laid out what the pay means in real terms: "You know, as a professional degreed teacher, working two jobs, I qualify for WIC and food stamps."

Randi Weingarten, national president of the American Federation of Teachers has said the teachers "are engaged in a righteous and fundamental American values fight for dignity and respect."

At the rally Monday, Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said, "We still have a lot of work to do."

"We will be on the picket lines and be back at the Capitol tomorrow. Make sure they hear your voices."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'We Can Do Better' Than Biden's Paltry Student Debt Relief Plan, Says AOC

The president's approach, said the New York Democrat, is "just enough to anger the people against it *and* the people who need forgiveness the most."

Julia Conley ·


Right-Wing Supreme Court Poised to Make US Gun Carnage Even Worse

The U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority could soon "obliterate even the mildest of gun regulations in service of its gun lobby masters."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Enough Is Enough!': Thousands Protest Outside NRA Convention in Texas

"I'm just tired of the NRA subordinating children's rights for gun rights," said one gun lobby opponent just three days after the school massacre in Uvalde.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Manchin of the House' Kurt Schrader Officially Defeated in Oregon Primary

"This win proves that voters are hungry for leaders who will fight for working families, not billionaires and Big Pharma," said one group that backed progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

Jake Johnson ·


Science Journal Editorial Says 'Minions' of NRA 'Must Be Defeated' to Save Nation

"A nation of children threatened by gun violence does not have a future."

Andrea Germanos ·

Common Dreams Logo