We are proud to announce our solidarity with the strike in West Virginia. The public school teachers across West Virginia are fed up with the incompetent and callous leadership in their state’s government, and have gone out on strike for higher pay and better health insurance.
The governor, Jim Justice, represents the interests of the decaying ruling classes, and has made the weak and empty promise of raising salaries by a meager 5% and (even more emptily) to lower health insurance costs through the use of a theoretical task force that would be set up in a deal with the union. At a recent town hall, that at one point devolved into the Governor calling the audience “rednecks,” he implied that the resources the teachers so desperately need simply don’t exist; this is clearly a lie when we examine that material wealth is overproduced globally and capital is hoarded by the ruling classes, not just in West Virginia, but everywhere.
The rank and file saw through the thinly-veiled attempts at getting teachers to stop struggling for what’s theirs and fall back in line. They have – in defiance of the conciliatory and weak willed union leadership – continued their strike, determined to get what they came for. These teachers willingness to persevere and defy the sellouts in their union leadership has given us hope that unions can reclaim the militancy that defined them in the past. This is imperative for progress to truly succeed. This collective of teachers is not only deserving of the economic rights they are bargaining for, but they are also deserving of the right to rebel against their exploiters.
This strike shows us that there is still a revolutionary spirit present in the exploited peoples of West Virginia, calling into mind their past history of militant class struggle – from the fierce battles waged during wildcat coal mine strikes, to the sabotage of infrastructure that would enable capitalist plunder, and the lower class Appalachians waging combat against elite families of landowners. This is hallowed ground for class struggle in the United States, and these striking teachers carry that legacy forward.
The teachers of West Virginia have proven their might, and now they must hold firm. Integral to this struggle is the use of militant unionism. We can be ignored by our oppressors if we only hold a sign and yell at them, but if our words hold meaning, if our escalation is realized, they cannot cast us off as mere annoyances. They must meet us with concessions to our demands or they must meet us on the battlefield, and in both fights they will eventually and inevitably lose. The exploited and oppressed people of this earth have a right to rebel in any ways that fit their situational needs, and in any ways they deem necessary. We cannot allow ourselves to be held back by ideals of appeasement for our masters. We must do whatever it takes to secure our freedom against them.
The struggle of the people in West Virginia is the struggle of all exploited peoples. It is everyone’s duty to take up the mantle of revolutionary and do their part. We must build even more militant movements in our own homes, our neighborhoods, with our friends, our coworkers, our teachers, our peers, our school staff, everyone. And, in addition, we must organize to support the people in West Virginia who have made the first strike in what must become a larger struggle for educators and for the exploited classes more broadly. We cannot allow them or their students to go hungry. We must donate time and labor to their movement as well as our own, for again: their struggle is ours. Solidarity forever!