State Senators Vote for New SB 11 Bill and Against Teacher Rights 

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Georgia Hensley, Author

Teaching might just be one of the most important and most difficult jobs in the world. You would expect the people who volunteer their time and effort for the betterment of future generations to be treated with the same generosity they emanate. In a perfect world, or even just a compassionate one, teachers would be rewarded with a fair salary and support from their government. 

Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case in our state today. 

On February 22, the West Virginia Senate voted to pass bill SB 11 which would declare all work stoppages or strikes by public employees to be unlawful. With a final vote of 21-12, the republican leaning Senate was able to pass the bill without support from the democratic minority.  

Teachers nationally are already severely underpaid for the amount of schooling, time, and commitment their job requires. West Virginia is no exception. Out of all 50 states, West Virginia is ranked 49 for best teacher salary, beating only Mississippi.  

For many years, teachers have put up with this substandard salary. The first anti-strike legislation was put into place after the first state-wide teacher demonstration in 1990. This strike, an 11-day work stoppage after longstanding frustration with having one of the lowest salaries in the nation, shows incredible similarities to the 9-day teacher strike for fair pay in 2018.  

This new bill, passed by the senate on the two-year anniversary of the 2018 work stoppage, has only been proposed to offer further clarification to the 1990 legislation which already declares public employee strikes to be illegal. To teachers and democratic senators, this is seen as a punitive act, simply a retaliation against unwanted protest. 

“This is about making certain our kids, our most precious resource, continue to be our priority,” states Education Chairwoman Patricia Rucker (R). 

This SB 11 bill does not directly accomplish anything. It is spiteful and paints our teachers as greedy and selfish by claiming that they do not see their students as a priority. Perhaps with proper funding and support from their government, teachers could create a proper learning environment for the future generations. 

Let them speak their minds. Let them fight for justice. Let them lead by example to show students that they do not have to cave to petty, diminishing restriction. 

Let them strike.