W. Virginia Makes Public Employee Strikes Illegal

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W. Virginia Makes Public Employee Strikes Illegal

In the past few years, West Virginia teachers and school personnel have engaged in work stoppages to protest state budget actions. A new law codifies that strikes by government workers like these are illegal.


Under Senate Bill 11, striking by state and local government employees is now illegal. A 1990 decision by the state supreme court had already ruled that state employees could not strike without legal authorization, but this bill now enacts that ban into law and establishes penalties and procedures for dealing with strikes and work stoppages.


If government employees participate in a strike or a work stoppage, that will now be grounds for dismissal in West Virginia. School employees cannot use personal days to engage in such activities 


Starting in 2018, teachers and school employees have engaged in work stoppages to protest what they saw as unfair wage increases. Supporters of such actions contend that they are the best way to gain the attention of the public to push for needed raises and reforms. Opponents, however, argue that teachers should focus on educating students and not use their work time to engage in political action.


West Virginia was long seen as a union stronghold, which co-existed with its long mining history. However, in recent years there has been a switch away from policies favored by unions. In 2016, West Virginia became a right-to-work state. The work stoppages led by teachers have also engendered a policy backlash, as Senate Bill 11 illustrates.


Do you think that states should ban strikes and work stoppages by teachers and other government employees?

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