AFT-Mon: Two-day work stoppage is not a strike

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — They’re not calling it a strike or a walk-out, but teachers will not be at work Thursday and Friday.

“A strike usually comes whenever you have a collective bargaining contract,” Monongalia County AFT Chapter President Sam Brunett said. “We prefer a work stoppage.”

Appearing on WAJR’s Morgantown AM, Brunett said it is a near-certainty that teachers across the state will participate in the two-day stoppage, pending a major change in policy coming out of Charleston.

“Something within the next two days? It would be very difficult I think.”

He said the actions of the Legislature show that they’re not willing to come to the table and discuss increased teacher pay greater than the already proposed five-year, one percent annual raise proposed by Governor Jim Justice or the four-year, 2-1-1-1 raise adopted by the House of Delegates.

“To be realistic, in the next two days prior to Thursday, I would say that would be a major task,” Brunett said.

He did caution that this work stoppage was temporary — more of a statement than anything else — until the regular Legislative session ends. A full strike similar to that of 1990 can still be avoided, he said.

“The first and foremost step would be too really listen and make some concessions,” Brunett said. “And that’s on both sides, don’t get me wrong. But, right now, it seems like the House and the Senate majority have pretty much shut things down.”

Brunett said the decision to close schools later this week would be a sign to teachers that they don’t need a traditional picket line.

“By all means, we would not have to picket as traditional pickets would be,” Brunett said. “It would be more of an informational type of thing, because schools should be closed anyway.”

“It would also be our hope that those people who didn’t choose to stay behind at their schools and in support of our schools would get in their cars, carpool, or even take buses to Charleston, because that’s really where the battle is taking place.”

State-level unions and education association reps made the announce Saturday that teachers would engage in a two-day work stoppage.