The teachers’ strike which has shut down public schools across West Virginia has now become the longest in the history of the state.
Teachers first walked out on Thursday, February 22. On Tuesday, the strike entered its ninth school day (13 days total, including weekends). The last major strike in 1990 lasted for eight school days (11 days including weekends).
On Monday, West Virginia teachers, who are among the lowest paid in the country, packed the state Capitol building.
Teachers are demanding a five percent raise and also looking for a fix to the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), which has failed to provide affordable health insurance for public employees. While the state’s governor, union leaders, and legislators in the West Virginia House of Delegates have agreed to the five percent raise, the state Senate only offered four percent. State lawmakers did not come to an agreement on Monday, pushing the strike into Tuesday.
In the words of one teacher, “Hopefully we can stay strong. In 1990 they stayed out for 11 days and they didn’t have the support that we have now so hopefully we can go as long as they did and longer if we have to.” A GoFundMe Strike Fund that has been set up to support teachers has raised over $270,000.
Matthew Carpenter, a high school teacher, told Splinter last week, “We may be on strike until the end of the legislative session if that’s what it takes ... at this point, the way I view it, we’re all in. I feel like you speak to just about any West Virginian and they’re fed up with business as usual.”