West Virginia teachers stage walkout over wages and benefits


“We gotta keep the blood moving,” said union leader Kim Martin as she revved up a picket line of 50 teachers dancing in the freezing rain to Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.

Teachers in West Virginia, who are the 48th lowest paid in the nation, quit school for a two-day illegal wildcat strike on Thursday, the first time they have taken such action since 1990.

They are demanding that state legislature vote to increase their wages, health care, and stop the proposed elimination of traditional teachers seniority.

With starting salaries set at $31,000 a year, union leaders say that after deducting for health care costs, many teachers in the state make less than $15 an hour.

Now, the Republican lead state legislature is proposing to give teachers only a 2% raise while drastically increasing healthcare costs so high that some teacher’s deductibles would more than triple.