West Virginia's teachers across the state are participating in an unsanctioned wildcat strike with no end in sight -- thanks in part to the widespread support for their cause among West Virginians, and solidarity from other workers.
As dire as the situation in West Virginia's public schools is, it's even worse in Oklahoma, where schools have gone on 4-day weeks so teachers can take part-time work at Walmart and make rent.
Now, thousands of Oklahoma teachers have massed in a Facebook group where they are planning their own walkout. Oklahoma pays teachers so badly that it has a chronic shortage of applicants for open jobs, meaning it will struggle to hire scabs to counter the strike.
Both Oklahoma and West Virginia are "red states," which is typically understood to mean a state where conservative voters elect conservative politicians, but as these strikes demonstrate, they're better understood as a place where progressive elements are systematically excluded from participating in policy through gerrymandering, voter suppression, unlimited election spending by industry, etc -- and that without that escape valve for their energies, they are ready to boil over and start a political revolution.
Echoing West Virginia teachers grievances for more pay and more staff, Oklahoma teachers and a newly formed group“Oklahoma Teacher Walkout - The Time Is Now!” are calling for the state’s 41,000 teachers to walk off the job as soon as April 2, the group’s leader said.
“A walkout would be the last resort, but we want more money for education in the state, that means more money for supplies, more staff and pay raises so teachers will stay,” said the group’s leader, Alberto Morejon.
“Teachers are leaving left and right, we’re the lowest paid in the country,” said Morejon, an eight grade history teacher in Stillwater, OK, about 66 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, .
The group’s Facebook page, created last week, has more than 36,400 followers.
Oklahoma teachers might follow West Virginia in strike, walk outs [Rich McKay/Reuters]