Lawmakers in West Virginia recently passed an education bill with an amendment that would ban teachers strikes. The legislation, which passed the Senate, heads to the state’s House of Delegates later this month.
While the right-to-work state already doesn’t give employees collective bargaining rights, many call the amendment “pure retribution, retaliation.”
“This is just I think another stab at trying to punish us, making the law perhaps a little more severe with such language,” Fred Albert, president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
The amendment would “specify that public worker strikes are unlawful, that school workers can be fired if they strike, that school employees’ pay can be withheld on strike days, and that county superintendents can’t close schools in anticipation of a strike or to help a strike,” Gazette-Mail reported.
Under current West Virginia law, it’s unlawful for public employees to strike. Sen. Charles Trump, a Republican who sponsored the amendment to the education bill, said it was “a codification of what is the current law of West Virginia.”
Many believe the anti-strike amendment is an effort of the Republican Party to put an end to strikes altogether because of their effectiveness in West Virginia.
West Virginia teachers went on strike over pay and benefits last year and shut down every school in the state, Common Dreams reported. The teachers went on strike again this year to protest Republican privatization efforts.
“If strikes weren’t effective, they wouldn’t be doing this,” Jordan Uhl, an activist, said on Twitter. “All workers need to recognize the power they have when they unify and stand together.”
“This is how the GOP retaliates against the people who educate our children,” Wong wrote of the anti-strike provision.