20,000-25,000 Workers On Strike In West Virginia

9 posts / 0 new
Last post
20,000-25,000 Workers On Strike In West Virginia
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

An illegal strike by teachers and school service workers (bus drivers, food service, clerical and custodial workers) has shut down public schools in the whole state. Monday will be the 8th day schools have been closed since the strike began.

At 12:01am EST today, all 1,400 workers at Frontier Communications, the regional telephone and internet service provider, went on strike. It too is a statewide strike.

We've been covering the events on Anti-Capital:

West Virginia Teachers to Strike


7 Days Out


2 Strikes, 1 Struggle: The Significance of the Communications Workers Strike in West Virginia


How long before this gets

How long before this gets demobilized and diverted into the terrain of the midterm elections?


It's unlikely, at least for the duration of the teachers' and public school workers' strike. Midterm election primaries don't even start for another 2 months.

The local opinion of local politicians is very poor here, particularly among public employees. West Virginia's Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) is the primary issue in the strike. It was bankrupted by the Democratic Party beginning with their annual cuts in 2007 through to 2016 when they were ousted from control of all branches of government here, while the Republican Party (that swept the state between 2014 and 2016) has refused to consider any means of providing dedicated revenue for the public workers' health plan and has instead rolled out massive cuts, raising costs to workers, highly invasive "voluntary" wellness programs, etc.

The Democratic Party was responsible for a multi-year wage freeze for public workers, which combined with the PEIA cuts and staffing shortages resulted in significant de facto wage cuts, longer hours and speed-ups. The Republican Party, since 2016, has rolled out virtually every anti-labor bill known in the US: "right-to-work", repeal of the state prevailing wage law, voter ID law, raising various regressive taxes (sales, gasoline, etc.). Unlike the mythology surrounding Wisconsin's "progressive traditions" during 2011, which made it easier for the capitalist political parties to make the whole thing a matter of electing different people, what exists here is a pretty ingrained antipathy toward local politicians and renewed interest in the Battle of Blair Mountain-- just look at a lot of the picket signs and some of the strikers wearing red bandanas like the coal miners who took up arms in 1920-21.

I don't have enough information to risk a prediction for the midterm elections, other than I don't see it becoming a defining issue in the current statewide illegal public school workers' strike.

Midterms would pose no immediate relevance to the Frontier Communications strike.

Important to note the virtual

Important to note the virtual national media black out on the strikes, generally limited to a few throw away lines at the bottom of the newscast. Coverage has been scarce on the liberal bastion MSNBC, which has essentially become nothing but a liberal anti-Trump conspiracy mill, pumping out increasingly xenophobic diatribes about Russians. This is in some marked contrast to the rather intense media coverage on this same network of the mobilizations in Wisconsin in 2011. The difference being perhaps that in Wisconsin the entire thing could be sold as a mass uprising against the Republican agenda represented by Scott Walker, while in West Virginia it is now the very same white racist troglodytes that the media tells us gave us Trump who are mobilizing with some degree of autonomy that appears flustering to the official union apparatus. Moreover, despite West Virginia now being a state whose politics are generally dominated by Republicans, this hasn't always been the case; the current Republican Governor was until very recently a Democrat and Demcoratic Senator Manchin has been effectively operating as a Trumpist.

However, the fact that these are public sector workers leading  themovement is important, as the Supreme Court is poised to outlaw the closed shop in the coming Janus case, which is being touted as a potential death blow for public sector unions in the United States. How the current events relate to this oncoming train, I am not entirely sure at the moment, but I know that the union apparatus has been apoplectic about its future in a post-Janus environment. However, others have speculated that outlawing the closed shop would prove a stupid move for the ruling class as it could lead to renewed shop floor militancy in a context where different unions/elements might compete with one another to deliver the best deal, rather than have one union enforcing the terms of the last contract.

There is word of a strike vote among Oklahoma teachers as well?

That's exactly right. Nothing

That's exactly right. Nothing at all on any of the prime time shows. This was noticed by many hardline liberals committed to the Cold War Democratic Party coalition, which of course included 'labor statesmen' and trade unionists who "knew their place". Unless labor is a domesticated housepet, they ignore (or attack when anything too disruptive or rough happens).

We just put out an article on the Janus case as well tonight:


Teachers quoted in Oklahoma are starting from the exact same place as those in WV: a conscious understanding that they are not likely to be fired for striking-- one good quote from a local news outlet the other day -"If we strike, I double dare you to fire us. We'll just go to Texas; they're looking for new teachers". They've been chiseled into nothing, just like in WV, just like everywhere else. I don't know if the teachers are actively seeking the support of school service workers, who are and have been recognized as the lynchpin of the (public sector) strike here. The teachers in PA who took a strike vote just prior to the WV strike did not it appears.

A victory for Janus means the field is open further to even more chiseling against all public employees who have been battered for more than a decade.

All the scathing stereotypes and simple narratives about "Trumpland" are coming undone; "Trumpland" is on strike.


Subject field

mhou wrote:

All the scathing stereotypes and simple narratives about "Trumpland" are coming undone; "Trumpland" is on strike.


They're easy enough to save. Just lump in strike action with all the other "deplorable" attributes and activities that have been successfully associated with Trumplanders. Bonus: you now have an ideological stick to beat "loyal," "democratically-committed" workers with.


It's possibly a little more complex than the apparent opposites of 'all the narratives about Trumpland' coming undone and the idea that "they [the narratives] are easy enough to save."

First off, what a kick to be discussing the struggle of our class, the revolutionary class and particularly one unfolding in a bastion of capital. This alone is worth saluting. 

As an individua, I felt the movement of schoolchildren in the US after the Florida school massacre to be a profoundly positive and human (if not ‘proletarian’ on the political level) response and these strikes, coming off the back of that, are a further glimmer of light. 

Thank you to the comrades who've so far contributed to breaking the media silence and providing analyses of what's going on. In Europe, newspapers are just starting to take an interest: see https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/06/west-virginia-strike-teachers-rare-hope-dark-times

But I note the source and author of this particular article in the UK paper The Guardian. And it's for certain that, on its own, this particular movement won't alter the global balance of class forces (which for the past quarter of a century has seen a weakening of the workers' influence on history's unfolding) nor will it avoid recuperation by a thousand channels running into the state and its ideological apparatus.

However the strike's not dead yet, and revolutionaries will have their own comments to make: particularly on the balance between defending immediate economic interests and the imperative need to raise the political level of our combats to the perspectives they imply.

Non ex hoc mundi

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
How long before this gets demobilized and diverted...?

Approximately two days.


This was without question left alone by Trump. Who cares about this besides labor activists anyway?

Post-public school strike

Post-public school strike analysis up on Anti-Capital:

Not All Strikes Are Created Equal


Workers across the country care about this, Non. Otherwise you wouldn't see teachers and public school workers showing solidarity and trying to organize their own strikes directly due to the events in West Virginia. Parents of the 277,000 students who were off from school the last 2 weeks care-- that is, the wider working-class in WV.

Oklahoma public school workers confused tactics with strategy and have missed an important opportunity to strike while public pro-strike sentiment was at its peak and their counterparts were still walking the picket lines in WV. They wanted to wait until standardized testing starts at the beginning of April to walk-out, which would be a good tactic to increase leverage but has missed out on the bigger leverage of cultivating a national strike movement.