Published: Tue, March 06, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Oklahoma teachers might follow West Virginia in strike, walk outs

Oklahoma teachers might follow West Virginia in strike, walk outs

In West Virginia, the teachers' three major unions were promised a 5 percent pay raise last week from Republican Gov. Jim Justice. House members later Saturday wouldn't agree to the Senate's move.

Then on Saturday, the state Senate approved a 4 percent raise, prompting angry union officials to vow to stay out of the classroom indefinitely. The first pizza delivery is already scheduled for noon on Monday, March 5th at the State Capitol in Charleston.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest list of closings.

Teachers have made it clear that they are not willing to settle for a 4 percent pay increase, and with no concrete plans to lower the raised costs of the public employees insurance program, all signs point to continued striking in the week to come.

Wildcat strikes and collective bargaining battles are nothing new for West Virginia, particularly its coal miners. "They're taking a big risk and they're putting themselves out there and fighting for the future of our state, which are these children", Vasale said. In addition to wearing red t-shirts that recall the red bandanas worn by strikers marching on Blair Mountain, many teachers and their families have taken to wearing pink bunny ears; a reference to Governor Justice calling teachers "dumb bunnies" in early February.

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West Virginia public school teachers are continuing their strike because the Legislature didn't meet their demand for higher pay and better benefits over the weekend.

"We feel like we're under attack constantly", said Cody Thompson, a social studies and civics teacher at Elkins High School.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted Saturday evening to approve the lower pay raise, bucking teachers, Republican Gov. Jim Justice and the Republican-controlled House, which approved the 5 percent raise Wednesday. At least two GoFundMe pages have been launched in support of the walkout. That version passed the House on a 98-1 vote.

The WV Teachers Strike Support Fund, started by citizens and not sponsored by unions, is created to help "teachers and school service personnel who are taking on great personal cost to organize and support their families during the strike".

For West Virginia teachers (whose pay ranks 48th in the country for educator salaries), such miniscule pay gains don't seem like much of an improvement.

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"However, all members of the House are in agreement that they will not back down from the 5% pay raise that passed the House, and the Delegates representing the House on the pay raise conference committee have been notified they are to stand their ground on 5%", the Facebook post said. It's an issue teacher Tonya McKinney can ignore. In Oklahoma, public school teachers are considering a strike over their salaries.

Teachers from around the state met in a planning session in Tulsa Friday and Oklahoma City teacher Heather Reed said,"Our teachers are exhausted, tired", the Tulsa World reported.

Stafford, a Charleston seventh grader, said that since the strike began, he's attended sleepovers and played Xbox games.

She said she wants to reach 40,000 signatures and write an open letter to Gov. Mary Fallin asking for pay raises as a last-ditch effort before a walkout.

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