Strikes Across the Nation
Inspired by the West Virginia Teachers Strike, teachers in Oklahoma, Firefighters in Florida talk strike while the CWA walks the picket line
There is something in the air. Maybe workers are inspired by IBEW Local 3 Spectrum Workers nearly one year strike and West Virginia teachers two-week strike, maybe it's just getting warmer out, but strike talk is in the air. Here is a look at some of the strikes that may be happening around the country.
Over the weekend, Communications Workers of America (CWA) members in Ashburn Virginia and from across West Virginia went on strike. The 1,400 members work at Frontier Communications and their contract expired at 12:01 AM on Sunday. Some of the issues that they were negotiating over included, employment security, affordable health care and limits on the amount of contracting that Frontier can use. According to the CWA, the infrastructure in West Virginia is falling apart, customer complaints are up, and the company is continuing to fire union workers and replace them with contractors. As more and more positions are lost, the amount of complaints continue to increase. Find out more about the strike and picket locations here.
Speaking of West Virginia, teachers there remain on strike after the State Senate failed to pass a 5% raise that had been approved by the House of Delegates and the Governor. Instead the Senators, in a rare weekend session, voted to approve a 4% raise. Teachers have vowed to stay on strike and keep schools closed throughout the state until the 5% raise is approved.
Inspired by the action taken in West Virginia, teachers in Oklahoma are talking strike. In just a few days, a Facebook group, Oklahoma Teacher Walkout, has gained nearly 40,000 members. Teachers in Oklahoma, which is ranked 50th in the nation in teacher pay, say they are trying to discuss options for a teacher walkout. They hope to gain the support of superintendents along with the District’s school board so that the action would be recognized as a statewide suspension of classes instead of an illegal job action. The walkout could happen as soon as April 2nd if no progress is made on raises for teachers. A teacher’s strike in Oklahoma is not unprecedented. In 1990, teachers statewide walked the picket line for four days to get a $230 million compensation package, along with a slew of education reforms like smaller class sizes.
Even in Right to Work Florida labor tension has firefighters talking strike. The smoke eaters, who are part of Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 525 work at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. They authorize a strike after they voted down a contract from their employer, Chenega Infinity, that would have eliminated paid sick leave and rolled back retirement benefits. TWU and Chenega Infinity have been negotiating a contract since August of 2017 after the company was contracted to take over firefighting and preventative services in 2016. When they took over, they acquired the 80 Local 525 members who were working at the Space Center. Local 525 has represented workers there for 60+ years. TWU International President John Samuelson has sent a letter to members of Congress, asking them to step in and help settle the contract dispute before a strike takes place.