West Virginia Teachers Seem Not To Understand SOMEBODY Has To Be 48th In Teacher Pay
There is power in a union
West Virginia teachers have been on strike for four days, shutting down every single public school in the state. It's the state's first teacher strike since 1990, and involves around 20,000 teachers and another 13,000 school service employees; they walked after Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill last week giving teachers a two percent raise starting this July, but only a 1 percent raise for the following two years -- which teachers and staff say isn't enough to keep up with the cost of living. The other big issue in the strike is the cost of healthcare through the state's public employee insurance plan, which covers all state employees.
With West Virginia teacher pay ranking 48th out of the 50 states and DC, teachers are also concerned the state will see an exodus of teachers to states that pay at least a few more crumbs, which just proves how greedy those socialists are, as HuffPo explains:
West Virginia is one of the few U.S. states with a falling population. As the state grapples with a severe teacher shortage, many educators worry their younger peers will continue to flee for greener pastures, with long-term consequences for successive generations of students.
Hmm. No students, no teachers, no problem, right? Why would anyone worry about that, since the schools are all just liberal indoctrination centers anyway? Do they even need to fill the 700 teaching jobs that are empty already? Wait long enough and people will just move away! (Sometimes we scare ourselves with how well we could write rightwing tweets if we wanted.) To make the schools' problems worse, the state underwent a series of big tax cuts for businesses from 2006 (started by Joe Manchin when he was governor, natch) and continuing through 2015. Funny how that didn't create a boom of extra revenue, and now the potential for declining public schools may offset any incentives for businesses to move to or expand in West Virginia. You might almost get the impression that continual tax cuts don't make everyone rich. Thank goodness Donald Trump pledged to bring back all the coal jobs -- if that turns out to be an empty promise, it sure will be a disappointment, huh?
The state's only "solution" so far for rising premiums under the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) has been to place a 17-month "freeze" on premium increases, but the union has criticized that as merely stalling, not actually fixing structural problems in the insurance program. Not much help if rates skyrocket in less than a year and a half and teachers only have that 1 percent raise to rely on.
At a rally on the state capitol steps yesterday, Christine Campbell, the state leader of the American Federation of Teachers, was joined by Cecil Roberts, the head of the United Mine Workers. How's that for some solidarity? Campbell urged the state's political leadership to negotiate a better deal that will not just get teachers back in the classrooms, but keep them there in the future. Roberts compared the striking teachers to labor heroes of yesteryear, and urged all union members in the state to get behind the teachers.
Not surprisingly, state Republicans have been complaining that the teachers are very selfish and bad. Before the strike, in early February, Gov. Justice had warned educators not to get too pushy, and that if they can just make do with a tiny pay raise, maybe they'll get more later when the state's economy improves. Then he added,
I am absolutely all in on education. All in,” Justice said. “I’ve been there, I’ve shown it, I’ve said judge me by my deeds.
“Now if you choose to respond to somebody that’s a politician that’s running through the streets that didn’t stand with you any more than I can fly through the sky then you’re being dumb bunnies.”
Is he ... is he Donald Trump?
Regardless, that explains why a lot of the picketing teachers are wearing bunny ears -- they aren't necessarily just Steve Martin fans, though he picks a mean banjo. Nor are they just fans of Louise Belcher from "Bob's Burgers," but we bet she'd be behind the teachers. West Virginia teachers, have you tried getting hold of voice actor Kristen Schaal? She's a big time liberal troublemaker!
In a move that may goose lawmakers into action, a group of parents is planning a class action suit against the West Virginia legislature for failing to fulfill its constitutional duty to give kids a “thorough and efficient” public education as required by law, according to Democratic state Sen. John Unger:
“Parents are just getting very frustrated that the West Virginia Legislature seems to not want do anything anymore,” Unger said on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Unger said that if the Lege wasn't going to come to a settlement to get teachers back to work, a judge should at least clarify what would happen next.
Yr Wonkette is fully in support of West Virginia teachers, and we hope they can maybe explain to legislators how not investing in education is really not a good idea for a state that needs jobs. It would be a shame if that lesson only comes through more teachers leaving for better conditions elsewhere. Remember, West Virginia teachers: Steer clear of Oklahoma! (Bet they already knew that.)
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