CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK)- The West Virginia teacher strike of 2018 launched strikes all across the country but the newest education bill could impact their ability to do so again.
Senate Bill 1039 was amended on Sunday to include anti-strike language. The bill not only says teacher strikes are unlawful but says school workers can be fired or lose pay if they do strike. The bill also states that county superintendents can’t close school in anticipation of a strike.
“These strikes are illegal, they are illegal strikes that shutdown our schools,” said Senate President Mitch Carmichael, (R) Jackson.
A 1990 State Supreme Court ruling found that public employee strikes were illegal saying in part “Public employees had no right to strike in the absence of express legislation.” But teachers say they think this new piece of legislation is just retaliation for their previous strikes.
“West Virginia became a verb, don’t make us go West Virginia on you and there was a lot of attention brought by that and I’m sure our legislators would like to not have that negative attention on them,” said Lucinda Burns, a Point Harmony teacher.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael said he’d like to hear from the teachers on future legislation but wants to keep kids in school. As for teachers, Burns said they will continue to fight for what they believe.
The bill now goes to the House of Delegates who are set to meet on June 17.