Apr 16, 2018
A West Virginia teacher said of their state-wide strike, “We wanted to inspire teachers all across the nation.” And inspire they did.
Following the increase in wages won by West Virginia teachers in their recent strike, teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona have threatened to follow suit.
Oklahoma and Arizona are two states that cut taxes, with the biggest beneficiaries being the corporations and the wealthy. For example, Oklahoma’s budget suffered a five hundred million dollar drop in revenue from natural gas production. So naturally, public workers, including teachers, are supposed to suffer the consequences through pay cuts.
In Kentucky, for the same reasons, new teachers will only get a 401(k) type pension, without Social Security, thanks to the governor of Kentucky taking away regular, defined pension benefits, due to “budget constraints.”
Although these states are Republican-controlled states, legislators in Democratic-controlled states have also forced teachers and students to make do with ever fewer resources.
The corporations pretend they cannot make profit without more handouts from every state; the state legislators, whether Republican or Democrat, go along with this nonsense.
The entire population pays and pays, not only teachers. While the money exists to cover the many costs, politicians pit the population against teachers and public workers, and everyone loses. Students get a worse education; roads, waterways and sewers are allowed to disintegrate. More jobs are cut.
Teachers in four states have made a start on trying to get what is needed for a decent education. Teachers in West Virginia won partial relief, while Arizona and Kentucky have seen big demonstrations of teachers and supporters determined to win gains.
After a 9-day walkout with big demonstrations and school shut-downs, Oklahoma teachers got a $6,000 addition to their salaries. And in Arizona, to try to prevent a walk-out by teachers, the state legislature has agreed to offer teachers 20% more in wages over the next three years.
No doubt, other fights will have to follow to make legislators pay what the population – not the corporations – needs.