This is a Republican state where Donald Trump got close to 70% of the vote in 2016. In "progressive" NY, we won't even contemplate the notion of possibly thinking about any kind of job action. Wonder why we are so easily pushed around these days in the Empire State, particularly in NYC?
Here is a summary of the strike situation in W.VA. from In These Times:
Teachers and service personnel across West Virginia are planning to strike on Feb. 22 and 23 in an effort to boost pay and lower their increasing healthcare costs. It will be the first statewide walkout in nearly 30 years.
According to World Socialist Web Site, the West Virginia movement for action came from the ground, not from union leaders:
“This whole movement has been from the bottom up and I’m going to do my best to make sure that we demand actions that will benefit all West Virginia public employees and West Virginia’s children,” Nicole McCormick, a Mercer County teacher, told the World Socialist Web Site.
McCormick, who emphasized that all public employees need a substantial pay raise, continued, “I feel, and many others as well, that now is the time to harness this historic opportunity to demand what will progress and redefine West Virginia.”
Around the state there were reports that teachers were threatening to leave the unions if they failed to call a strike, while others called for broader strike action by public-sector workers who are all affected by the state’s move to increase health expenses.
In 1990, 22,000 teachers defied Democratic Governor Gaston Caperton and the state’s ban on teacher walkouts, striking for 11 days in the state’s only official teachers’ strike. Conditions for educators today are the same, or worse, than they were three decades ago when their pay was 49th in the nation.
Expressing the militant mood, reading teacher Karen Stroup declared, “Without us, the state of West Virginia would shut down,” according to local media coverage of a rally in the eastern panhandle town of Charles Town last Friday. “We’re not out here just for teachers,” Jamie Bowden, an English teacher, was quoted as saying in a report in the Journal. “We’re here for all employees in West Virginia, because what’s going on in the legislature affects all of us.”
On the illegality of the strike, this is from MetroNews:
West Virginia last had a widespread teacher strike in 1990. The walkout lasted 11 days and shut down schools in 47 of the state’s 55 counties. It ended on March 17th when Governor Gaston Caperton, legislative leaders and union representatives announced a settlement.
It’s worth noting that the 1990 strike was illegal. Then-Attorney General Roger Tompkins, in an opinion delivered to then-State School Superintendent Hank Marockie, said that “There is no right to strike against the state. Thus, any strike or concerted work stoppage by public teachers of this state is illegal.”
Tompkins opinion was based on a series of previous rulings by the Attorney General’s Office, as well as court decisions. He cited a 1970 federal court decision supporting Governor Arch Moore’s decision to fire striking State Road Commission employees.
The court ruled that “to permit a strike by public employees at any level is inconsistent with the orderly process and sovereignty of government.”
Tomkins further found that teachers who strike are failing to fulfill their contract and could face disciplinary action. “A county board may suspend or dismiss a striking teacher for insubordination or willful neglect of duty” under state law.
During the 1990 strike Governor Caperton threatened action against the teachers, but never followed through. Lee says teachers today are not worried about possible ramifications of a work stoppage.
“Let’s say you fire 15,000 people… how are you going to replace them?” Lee asked. “That’s not really an issue in making the decision we are going to make.”
You see dear readers there is a moral in this story: We have the power if we would just get up and use it.