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Program Information
Fighting for respect, healthcare, a living wage
Olivia Morris, Stacy Davis Gates
 Dale Lehman/WZRD  Contact Contributor

WV teacher and strike leader, Olivia Morris, talks with Stacy Davis Gates, CTU political director, about the historic 9 day wildcat strike that resonated positively as "class struggle" with teachers and workers from around the world.

Olivia speaks about first learning of plans to privatize WV public education only later to realize it was to benefit corporations like Proctor and Gamble, not students. She also talks about what she saw that raised her class consciousness and the long tradition in WV of mine workers striking for their rights.

That WV politicians were more concerned with the profits made by out of state energy companies than the education of the state's children or the welfare of its teachers and public service workers was demonstrated by legislation being pushed in the Capital. She tells a story of a town hall meeting where a young boy's question to the Governor forced him to flip his position and side with the strikers on some of their demands. She speaks about the difficulty in maintaining unity among the diverse population of teachers, all 55 counties supported the strike, once it was ended. Some participants felt they had obtained what they struck for others realized that the struggle was for much more than wages and required taking back their state from the corporations that colonized its government.

West Virginia teachers, among the lowest paid teachers in the nation bucked union leadership and shook up the power elites
while igniting public support across the state and the nation. Teachers in states from Oklahoma to Kentucky are looking at strategies to bring the WV model of strike resistance and rank and file democracy to their states.

In West Virginia, teachers rejected efforts by political leaders and top union officials to convince them to settle without an iron clad guarantee of improved wages, enshrined in legislation, not just for them but for all state public employees. Teachers struck for those guarantees even though West Virginia is a 'right-to work' state which bans strikes by public workers.

The wildcat strike derailed plans by state legislators to jack up health insurance premiums, jam through a charter school bill
being promoted by corporations and push other anti-labor bills like 'payroll protection'. Teachers and their supporters are demanding West Virginia legislators reverse corporate tax cuts, raise gas severance tax and hold harmless any public programs that prioritize the needs of struggling state residents in any plan to fund their raises.

Chicago Teachers Union

For the larger context:
As teacher struggles spread, unions redouble effort to suppress class struggle

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01:36:23 1 March 9, 2018
Chicago, Il
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