FORT ASHBY, W.Va — West Virginians never give up without a fight, especially when it comes to preserving their communities’ most important treasure: their people.
Oh, they may lose the war — just look at what’s left of the battered coal and steel industries that once dominated this breathtaking state.
But never the fight.
Earlier this month, the teachers of West Virginia did an extraordinary thing. Sick of poor wages and rising health-insurance premiums, they abandoned their classrooms to protest. Even when their unions called an end to the strike on March 1, saying the governor had made a “good faith promise” to get them a 5 percent raise, they didn’t stop. Instead, they started calling the shots, galvanizing others through social media and not giving up on their demands.
“We began to see through Facebook posts from the teachers in the southern counties of the state that they would not be going back until it passed through both the state house and the senate and was signed by the governor,” said Shay Jacob, a Spanish teacher at Frankfort High School in Fort Ashby. “Pretty soon all the rest of us joined in with them.”
The strike has played out at the same time the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, which could revoke unions’ right to automatically deduct fees from workers’ paychecks. If the unions lose, some say this could be the death of them.
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