Though you may not know it from the corporate media's coverage—or lack thereof—West Virginia teachers are still striking in an effort to win both a pay raise and a permanent fix to their soaring health insurance premiums, and on Friday they voted to occupy the state capitol until their demands are met.
Watch teachers chant "We will stay!" shortly following the vote:
"We will stay!"
Striking West Virginia teachers vote to occupy the state capitol until their demands are met. pic.twitter.com/l5Ko9ejjzM
— Jacobin (@jacobinmag) March 2, 2018
Earlier this week, West Virginia's Republican Gov. Jim Justice and the state's education union leaders reached an agreement on a bill that would raise teacher pay by 5 percent—meeting, at least in word, one of the teachers' core demands.
However, the compromise did not offer a permanent fix to the state's Public Employee Insurance Agency amid rising premiums, so teachers decided to continue striking.
"This has been a huge issue, causing problems for years. They've been cutting our health insurance over and over, making it really expensive to survive," Jay O’Neal, a middle-school teacher and union activist in Charleston, said in an interview with Jacobin on Thursday.
"Save for one two-minute throwaway report from daytime show 'Velshi and Ruhle,' MSNBC hasn't dedicated a single segment to the strike—despite the strike's unprecedented size and scope."
On Friday, the mass walkout—which has left schools in all of West Virginia's 55 counties closed—entered its seventh day.
As the demonstrations raged on in the state capitol, West Virginia lawmakers voted against bringing a teacher pay raise bill to the Senate floor for immediate consideration, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on Friday.
While some have called the West Virginia teachers' collective struggle for justice "the most important story in the country right now," many mainstream media outlets—including so-called liberal networks like MSNBC—have either neglected the strike or almost completely ignored it.
"Save for one two-minute throwaway report from daytime show 'Velshi and Ruhle,' MSNBC hasn't dedicated a single segment to the strike—despite the strike's unprecedented size and scope," media analyst Adam Johnson observed in a piece for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) on Friday. "The most glaring omission is from the three highly paid primetime hosts: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, and former In These Times and Nation writer Chris Hayes. None of the three big hosts have tweeted about it, much less mentioned the subject on air."