On Feb. 2, teachers across the state of West Virginia held organized actions, including walk-outs and demonstrations in front of school buildings, to show that they will be heard by the government. The teachers have been fighting for higher pay and full funding for the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), the agency that provides healthcare and other benefits for all public employees but especially for teachers. A historic statewide strike is very much a possibility.
This shows this country’s continuing attack on the working class and on public education. As public schools continue to be defunded and underfunded, private schools are receiving more and more state subsidies. As teachers continue working with less and less take home pay, the superintendent and the school board members continue to draw handsome salaries and exercise their power among state representatives. This funding should go to the teachers so they don’t have to worry how they will pay their bills! This power should be in the hands of the teachers that know what our education system needs, along with the community and students!
Instead of showing respect and gratitude for the hard work that public educators put into their vocations, the governor and state legislature insult them by offering only a one percent increase in wages. Even this demeaning concession is not guaranteed to pass in the legislature.
The state’s underfunding of the PEIA is forcing teachers to contribute more of their meager salaries to the insurance program. Teachers, who have dedicated their lives to mentoring and guiding our future generations, are faced with the choice between proper health care or basics like rent and food. This is a disgrace.
We from the West Virginia branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation stand in solidarity with the teachers of the state in their fight for better pay and better healthcare and offer our full support. We will not let those who dedicate themselves to the future of our communities be insulted and belittled by those who are supposed to represent and protect them.
To all teachers in West Virginia, the Party for Socialism and Liberation is committed to organizing support for your just fight every step of the way. Solidarity Forever!