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ROUGHLY 30,000 teachers and school support workers in West Virginia walked out today for the eighth day of strike action in their battle for decent pay.
The teachers’ strike began on February 22 over their pay and benefits, demanding that state legislators vote to end a four-year pay freeze.
West Virginia teachers are almost the lowest-paid in the United States.
“What we’re seeing is a movement in the US. Not just a labour movement. It’s a class of people rising up,” said Sam Brunett, an art teacher at Morgantown High School.
They said that while they’d rather be in the classroom teaching children, it was past time for them to fight back.
“We feel like we’re under attack constantly,” said Cody Thompson, a social studies and civics teacher at Elkins High School. “Eventually whenever you’re pushed into a corner, you’ve got to push back.”
The teachers walked out after state Governor Jim Justice signed a pitiful 2 per cent pay raise for next year — in effect another pay cut, as inflation is currently roughly 2.1 per cent.
Teachers’ unions negotiated a 5 per cent increase with the state House of Delegates, which it approved last week. However the state Senate voted on Saturday for a lower 4 per cent rise.
West Virginia Education Association president Dale Lee vowed teachers would stay out indefinitely after the Senate’s slap in the face.
Trade unionists held protests today outside the state legislature in Charleston.
Meanwhile 1,400 members of the Communications Workers of America at Frontier Communications went on strike today in their fight against job cuts and attempts to slash their healthcare coverage.
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