Dear Commons Community,
The statewide teachers’ strike that shuttered West Virginia schools for almost two weeks appeared all but over yeterday when Gov. James C. Justice signed a bill to give teachers and other state employees a 5 percent pay raise. A crowd of teachers wearing the red T-shirts that have come to symbolize their strike cheered as Mr. Justice, a Republican, signed the pay raise bill in a theater on the Capitol grounds. The bill had been passed unanimously earlier in the day by both houses of the Republican-controlled Legislature. As reported by the New York Times:
“We’re going to school tomorrow,” said Heather Acord, an elementary schoolteacher from Wayne County, with relief obvious on her face. “We got everything we asked for.”
Unlike a previous proposed raise that was backed by Mr. Justice and the State House of Representatives, the deal reached on Tuesday had the support of Mitch Carmichael, the president of the more conservative State Senate…
…The strike ground the state’s public schools to a halt for nine days, a remarkable show of defiance by the teachers in a state where the power of organized labor, once led by strong mining unions, has greatly diminished. Along the way, the teachers disregarded union leaders’ advice to return to work when the governor first promised them the raise last week, deciding in meetings at malls and union halls and in Facebook groups that they would stay out until their raise was enacted in law.
“Maybe our voices are being heard, finally,” said Danielle Harris, a third-grade teacher from Fayette County, whose eyes filled with tears after Mr. Justice announced the deal on Tuesday. “These strikes aren’t for nothing.”
Congratulations to these teachers, other state workers and their unions.