This week in the war on workers: West Virginia teachers walk out, closing schools statewide
West Virginia teachers shut down public schools across the state on Thursday and Friday when they walked out over pay and benefits. The state currently ranks 48th in teacher pay, ahead of just Mississippi, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. The teachers had had enough:
Ms. Pinkerman, a single mother with a daughter in college, said she continued to look for jobs in neighboring Ohio and Kentucky, where the pay was better. She said the 4 percent combined raise, which was reduced from the 5 percent overall increase passed by the Senate, was “a huge slap in the face.”
“College is expensive. There’s always things you have to buy, constantly,” Ms. Pinkerman said. “It’s difficult whenever my premium keeps going up. My deductible’s high. It’s just really hard to make it.”
The average salary for teachers in West Virginia is $45,622 a year, well below the national average of $58,353. When the teachers last struck statewide, in 1990, their pay ranked 49th in the nation.
But those weren't the only issues:
Randolph, of the teachers union, cited pay and benefits as two key items that are easy to understand, but said the strike was about more than that.
“This is a cumulative strike,” she said. “I mean, the pay and the benefits have been problems for years, and there’s constantly been the promises of, ‘We’ll take care of this, we’ll take care of this.’ It’s finally gotten to the point where, you know, the promises aren’t enough.”
Who knows what, if anything, will change, but the teachers certainly made the point that they are motivated and united and able to make themselves heard.