CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — West Virginia union leaders at a rally on the Capitol steps – in front of cheering and chanting crowd of school employees – said they will be extending an education strike for a fourth day on Tuesday and they urged legislative leaders and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice to come to the bargaining table and resolve a strike.
Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, and Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, said school employees would be back on the picket lines on Tuesday.
“We are challenging and telling the governor, the Legislature, the speaker of the House, the president of the Senate to sit down with us now at the same table,” Campbell said at Monday’s rally. “The state is watching the nation’s watching. We are 55 united, and we still say, ‘Do your job, so we can do our job.’ “
Lee said union leaders have been consistent in their message that they want pay raises, a long-term fix for PEIA, a measure of respect and to drop legislation that threatens seniority and would force them annually to sign up for union dues.
“You want to fix PEIA, then we have to be at the table,” Lee said. “They can bring us to the table and get this thing solved. I guarantee everybody out there would rather be in front of their students.”
Meanwhile, a fiery Cecil Roberts, international president of the United Mine Workers of America, urged the crowd to continue their fight. He said he wants to see state leaders get back to the bargaining table and a joint session of the Legislature.
“Workers who are united will never be defeated,” Roberts said. “If you feel like you’re doing the right thing. Don’t stop. Keep fighting. I would submit this is not a strike. This is a movement. This is when the people of West Virginia take back their state.”
Joe White, executive director of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, talked about the legal threat strikers have faced since state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said they are breaking the law with their actions. He mentioned civil rights leaders and movements in which the law was breaking.
“So when it comes to breaking the law, I say so what?” White said.
White said the work stoppage by school employees is getting attention across the nation.
“Your voice and your solidarity are making waves across the nation. It is time West Virginia stands up to corporate greed and take our state back,” White said.