In a move that was widely viewed as an attempt to exact revenge for last year’s mass walkouts, the West Virginia state Senate on Monday passed a sweeping education bill containing a Republican amendment that would ban teacher strikes.
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Fred Albert, president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), called the GOP provision “pure retribution, retaliation.”
“This is how the GOP retaliates against the people who educate our children. Absolutely disgusting.”
“Already, we don’t have collective bargaining. It’s a right-to-work state,” Albert told Politico ahead of the bill’s passage. “This is just I think another stab at trying to punish us, making the law perhaps a little more severe with such language.”
The legislation now heads to West Virginia’s House of Delegates, which is set to reconvene later this month.
Public employee strikes are technically already unlawful under West Virginia state law, but previous court decisions haven’t detailed “possible consequences for teachers” who go on strike, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.
The GOP amendment, according to the Gazette-Mail, would “specify that public worker strikes are unlawful, that school workers can be fired if they strike, that school employees’ pay can be withheld on strike days, and that county superintendents can’t close schools in anticipation of a strike or to help a strike.”
Republican state Sen. Charles Trump, the sponsor of the amendment, described the provision as “a codification of what is the current law of West Virginia.”
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