In Jersey City, the union representing some 4,000 public school teachers and school employees went on strike on Friday for the first time in 20 years.
The teachers’ union, the Jersey City Education Association, and school board have been negotiating a contract since the last one expired at the beginning of the school year but have been unable to reach a deal. At issue for teachers are skyrocketing health care costs. According to NJ.com, since a 2011 law was passed that forced teachers to contribute to their premiums, the amount that teachers pay for their health benefits has risen from nearly zero to a total of $19.9 million.
Students also joined the picket line today. Teachers at one school attempted to block substitute instructors brought in to replace them from entering the building and shouting “scab!”
Earlier this month, teachers in West Virginia, who are among the most poorly paid in the country, staged a statewide strike, which ended in all state workers getting a 5% raise. West Virginia teachers made one thing clear—workers in every part of the country are most powerful when they stand together.