Update on the WV Teacher Strike

Over the weekend, there was some movement in the Senate, along with some hysterical shenanigans. Basically, WV Senate Republicans are as incompetent as national Republicans, and after an amendment came out of the Finance committee for a 4% raise, lower than the 5% the governor and teachers agreed to, and lower than the 5% the House voted 98-1 for (comically, the one no vote was Saira Blair, the young Republican college student and daughter of Senator Craig Blair, and she claims she pushed the wrong button).

Quick interlude- Craig Blair is one of those “special” Republicans, who this weekend infuriated basically everyone by reacting to this CNN story about WV teachers packing lunches for their students who go hungry without school lunch programs before going on strike by stating something to the effect of “If they can afford to feed their kids, how desperate are they for a raise.” Yeah, he’s one of THEM.

At any rate, the Senate voted on a 4% raise, which was dead in the water in the House of Delegates, and immediately after the vote Senate leadership went through a bunch of procedures to have the vote removed. Apparently the clown caucus had filed the wrong amendment, and they had all voted for a 5% increase, not the 4% they intended. Normally parliamentary procedures would dictate a 2/3 vote to remove that previous vote, but being Republicans they said to hell with it and just did party line votes and then advanced the 4% bill instead. Democracy, fuck yeah.

So where we are now is there is a legislative conference committee set to meet at 4pm to resolved the differences. The committee includes 3 members from the House of Delegates (2R, 1D) and 3 members (2R, 1D). Notably, the House delegation has all been told to stand strong and presumably will lobby for the 5% they voted for (part sticking to their initial bill, part being told by membership what to do, and part dick-measuring contest between the House and Senate. The Senate Democrat will presumably go for the 5% increase.

This would lead one to presume that the 5% increase would carry the day. They would meet, majority would vote 4-2 for the 5%, and then the bill would be advanced to the Governor. You would be wrong. The majority members of the Senate are going to be Sen. Ryan Ferns, the Senate Majority Leader, and Mitch Carmichael, the President of the Senate, the aforementioned senator Blair and they too are special kinds of Republicans. What they may do is simply refuse to sign the conference committee report. So even though the vote would be 4-2, simply refusing to sign it would basically kill it. They’re the special kind of assholes who would do something like that, and the Senate Republicans done it before, just not with this much attention focused on them.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they do this to try and drag this strike out and have AG Morrisey cook up some sort of legal action against the teachers or to try and swing popular opinion against the teachers. The problem for them is everyone knows a teacher and likes them. The same can not be said for the Senate, Justice, or AG Morrisey.

In other news, the Senate Republicans refuse to meet with Governor Justice, who is now officially hated by Republicans as much as by Democrats, and the PEIA commission is set to meet on the 13th and has 24 members, 23 of whom need to be appointed.

In other words, there probably isn’t going to be school this week. The teachers and service personnel have their blood up and are sick of the bullshit.

*** update ***

The House Democrats send this notice:

“It has been brought to our attention that Senator Blair scheduled a Finance Committee meeting for 3:00 today. In his speech on the floor earlier today, Senator Blair stated that the Finance Committee will take up the budget bill and they will not adjourn until they are finished, even if it takes them until MIDNIGHT! Senator Blair is on the conference committee for HB 4145, the pay raise bill, and the conference committee scheduled for 4:00 today cannot meet until Senator Blair and Senator Ferns adjourn from the 3:00 Senate Finance meeting. This is political gamesmanship at its worst. They clearly have no intention of holding the conference committee for the pay raise bill today.”

38 replies
  1. 1
    Another Scott says:

    “Meth Laboratories of Democracy” is right.

    What a train wreck. :-(

    The only good thing is that everyone in the state is seeing what’s happening so maybe, maybe there will be some consequences for the GOP at the next election.

    Those who can afford it should consider donating to the WV Teachers Fund, also too.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  2. 2
    Ryan says:

    Nice to know we can have democracy so long as we agree to everything they say. I can’t imagine how any outside observer wouldn’t find the Republicans’ fascination with authoritarian leaders germane to our current world.

  3. 3

    Republican party and its handmaiden the political DC media are destroying the country one state at a time and one institution at a time.

  4. 4
    raven says:

    My friends in Morgantown are in Charleston for the demonstration today.

  5. 5
    rikyrah says:

    Thanks for the update, Cole.

    Bravo to the teachers. Stay strong

  6. 6
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    The teachers and service personnel have their blood up and are sick of the bullshit.

    Don’t blame them one little bit.

  7. 7
    rikyrah says:

    A lot of children depend on free school lunches, so the West Virginia teachers made food packages for them before going on strike and have continued to try to feed them. This is our dystopian welfare state: severely underpaid teachers trying to keep poverty-stricken kids alive.

    — Barbara Ehrenreich (@B_Ehrenreich) March 4, 2018

  8. 8
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Go teachers!! My only fear is that Republicans will pull a Reagan and fire them all.

  9. 9
    geg6 says:

    I think those teachers are so heroic. Going on a wildcat strike, making sure their kids get the lunches they would have gotten if school was in session and getting to the media to tell their stories. So underpaid and with terrible insurance costs on top, but still helping their students. What I’ve seen so far from news reports, the people seem to be supporting them so far.

  10. 10
    John Revolta says:

    Would passing the 5% raise even make a difference though? I understood it was the health insurance issue that was the real problem. Are they even attempting to fix that?

  11. 11
    WaterGirl says:

    I haven’t been following the details as closely as I could. Is a 5% raise even enough? If I pull a number out of the air – say 30,000 – then 5% is only 1,500 a year. Before taxes.

  12. 12
    WaterGirl says:

    @John Revolta: I see we have the same question!

  13. 13
    Brachiator says:

    I am coming late to this and am trying to understand it. This is a statewide strike? To a Californian, this alone is amazing.

    @rikyrah:

    A lot of children depend on free school lunches, so the West Virginia teachers made food packages for them before going on strike and have continued to try to feed them. This is our dystopian welfare state: severely underpaid teachers trying to keep poverty-stricken kids alive.

    This by itself, is insane. The idea that we have to depend upon the school system to feed children.

    This makes me even more enraged that idiots suggest arming teachers. With what money?

  14. 14
    Aleta says:

    OT news about Cohn probably committing a felony. Bank reported his wire transfer to T Dept.
    This link works for the moment
    this link to the wsj twitter page
    The wsj links to their own stories seem to be time sensitive.

  15. 15
    Yutsano says:

    @John Revolta: @WaterGirl: I hope they hold out for nothing less than the raise with a guaranteed increase structure over the next several years and a complete PEIA fix. I’ll even try to kick them some scratch for that when I can.

    @Aleta: Fucking paywalls.

  16. 16
    gvg says:

    Not sure about the whole state but in Alachua county Florida, under 18 can get a free breakfast and lunch at the schools in summer. if you need formula, it’s suggested you call in advance. they don’t need to prove need or income, just show up. They advertise by billboards and probably other ways but that is how I heard. Not all schools are open for summer but they also have mobile food trucks going by the closed ones. Includes preschool age kids.

  17. 17
    Aleta says:

    @Yutsano: First link I put in doesnt work so I deleted. The other one, clicking the link on their twitter, does right now.

  18. 18
    Barbara says:

    @Aleta: That’s Cohen, not Cohn! As in Michael, Trump’s lawyer, not Gary, Trump’s economic adviser.

  19. 19
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Aleta: Are you confusing Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, with Gary Cohn, the Trump admin’s economic adviser?

    ETA: Looks like Barbara types faster.

  20. 20
    Aleta says:

    The WV teachers are striking for what affects the whole country. The news coverage is minimal.

  21. 21
    Roger Moore says:

    @Brachiator:

    This by itself, is insane. The idea that we have to depend upon the school system to feed children.

    I don’t think it’s quite insane. We already have schools, and kids are legally required to go there. And we already have a school lunch program intended to make sure kids eat well for the one meal a (week)day where they’re there. It makes more sense to build a childhood nutrition program on that base than to build something completely new.

  22. 22
    Aleta says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Barb: Yes, Thanks. Cohen.

  23. 23
    Corner Stone says:

    @Roger Moore:

    And we already have a school lunch program intended to make sure kids eat well for the one meal a (week)day where they’re there.

    We should expand it to two (hot) meals a day and a snack bag to take home.

  24. 24
    Corner Stone says:

    @Aleta: I had heard the Cohen blurb earlier so when I saw Cohn I thought for a second someone had put a hit on him for trying to oppose the announced tariffs. I was hoping, anyway.

  25. 25
    Another Scott says:

    @Yutsano: TheHill has it too.

    President Trump’s lawyer complained to friends following the 2016 election that he had not been reimbursed for his payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

    Because, of course. This is the least surprising thing in the universe. Only little people pay their bills and keep their promises… :-/

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  26. 26
    marcopolo says:

    Here’s hoping the teachers in OK join their W VA brethren in striking:

    OKLAHOMA CITY – The possibility of a teacher strike or a walkout is something being talked about a lot across Oklahoma as educators lobby for a pay raise.

    “Nobody wants to see this but, like I said before, teachers are tired of being hushed. They’re tired of their voices not being heard, and they’re tired of empty promises,” said Tulsa teacher Teresa Danks, who created a petition to call for a teacher walkout. “Drastic measures are sometimes what it comes to.”

    Danks said, for many teachers, the final straw was the defeat of the Step Up Oklahoma plan in the legislature.

    Now, thousands of people are sharing a post from Facebook, claiming that teachers will be striking around spring break.

    I’d be happy as a clam if we suddenly started seeing huge labor actions across the country.

  27. 27
    randy khan says:

    @Aleta:

    So if the story is right and the payment was delayed because Cohen couldn’t get in touch with Trump, it seems there are two possibilities: (1) Cohn was acting as Trump’s lawyer, in which case he shouldn’t have been fronting the $130K, but also means that Trump was directing the payment; or (2) He wanted Trump to okay it just as a general matter, which turns it into a campaign contribution. It would appear that he’s in trouble either way.

  28. 28
    Roger Moore says:

    @Corner Stone:

    We should expand it to two (hot) meals a day and a snack bag to take home.

    My comments may already be out of date, since others have pointed out many schools have free breakfast, too. And there already are schools that give kids food for the weekend. I don’t know about dinner, but if the kids are in some kind of after-school program it should at least include a healthy snack.

  29. 29
    Brachiator says:

    @Roger Moore:

    This by itself, is insane. The idea that we have to depend upon the school system to feed children.

    I don’t think it’s quite insane. We already have schools, and kids are legally required to go there. And we already have a school lunch program intended to make sure kids eat well for the one meal a (week)day where they’re there.

    Kids come to school hungry and go home to face more hunger. I did a search and read that these programs feed 180,000 kids. Where’s the part where we do something to actually end poverty?

    I was also looking at a 2013 story on the legislative debate about improving these programs. Reads like a bad Monty Python skit. Or a Newt Gingrich proposal.

    A heated debate broke out in the House of Delegates Friday night over a bill to combat childhood hunger in West Virginia.Some Republican lawmakers said the free-meals-in-schools program would send a bad message to kids about personal responsibility, while Democrats argued there’s a moral imperative to feed hungry students.

    Delegate Ray Canterbury, R-Greenbrier, predicted the program could set up children for failure, “destroying their work ethic” and “showing them there’s an easy way.” Canterbury suggested that students “work for their lunches” by mowing lawns and taking out trash at schools.Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, said Republicans were trying to mislead people about the bill.”I’m offended anybody in this body would dare say a child has to work for their meals,” Poore said. “I can’t believe someone would say a first-grader, a second-grader . . . a fifth-grader has to labor before they eat. This isn’t an entitlement bill.”

    And putting the problem into some perspective:

    Across the state, many low-income children aren’t taking advantage of the free-meal programs. About 55 percent of children qualify for free- and reduced-price school meals, but only one out of every three students eats breakfast at school in West Virginia.

    Insane.

    The teachers here (and elsewhere) have some crazy shit that they are dealing with.

  30. 30
    Aleta says:

    @randy khan: That helps me understand the convolutions; thanks.

  31. 31
    Corner Stone says:

    @Roger Moore: My ISD does none of that and has a lunch debt policy. Talk about insanity.

    ETA, I know some that have a robust nutrition program. My initial comment was to mean that it should be pushed for strongly in all ISDs.

  32. 32
    Aleta says:

    @Brachiator: And schools are underfunded, kids hungry, while corporations ask states to give them massive tax breaks. Portland Press Herald (BIW is owned by General Dynamics.)

  33. 33
    Duane says:

    @rikyrah: If the people controlling the WV public schools had a grain of decency the schools would continue feeding children. Obviously they don’t give a damn. Republicans are too worried about a precious 1% and criticizing the teachers.

  34. 34
    MattF says:

    This is just amazing. Is any of it breaking through to the national mediia? Not that BJ is just a down-in-the-mud blog or anything, but still…

  35. 35
    Duane says:

    @Brachiator: Ranch dressing cost fifty-cents for school lunch here. Majority get free or reduced lunch. Apparently we can’t figure any other way.

  36. 36
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    Late to the thread, but I think the West Virginia teachers should call in José Andrés to run the lunch/hot meal program. Hell, I’d like Mr. Andrés to do this nation wide.

  37. 37
    Florida Frog says:

    @gvg: We do that too here in Nassau county. The school nutritionist works with every non-profit she can find to get good meals to any kid under 18. Boys and Girls Clubs and the local YMCA’s are places the school delivers lunches. We are now trying to get a food truck set up in the county to hit parks and playgrounds but it will take lots of fundraising.

  38. 38
    Florida Frog says:

    @Florida Frog: I meant to say this is the summer program. When school is in session the kids get their meals at schools. Over half of our kids qualify for free meals at school. We need to increase wages so parents can afford to care for their kids.

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