By Jim Workman
West Virginia Press Association
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On the third day of teachers and service personnel strike in West Virginia, classrooms remain empty and the State Capitol remains filled with protesters.
During the three days strikers have visited the Capitol, legislators as a group have not been popular among the throngs filling the Senate and House galleries, the State Capitol hallways and those lining streets in the 55 counties participating in the walkout.
On Monday, a massive crowd of educators, service personnel and supporters filled the front steps of the West Virginia State Capitol for a rally. Prior to the 2 p.m. rally, strikers filled with Capitol, chanting in the Rotunda outside the chambers of the Senate and House of Delegates and talking with legislators as they tried to move through the building.
Monday’s rally gave many legislators, especially the Democrats, the opportunity to attend the event and visibly support the strikers. Among legislators center stage at the rally were Delegates Mike Ferro, D-Marshall, a retired education; and Brent Boggs, D-Braxton; Joe Canestraro, D-Marshall; Mike Caputo, D-Marion; Jeff Campbell, D – Greenbrier; Phillip W. Diserio, D – Brooke; Jeff Eldridge, D – Lincoln; Larry L. Rowe, D – Kanawha; Mike Pushkin, D – Kanawha; Stephen Baldwin, D – Greenbrier; Ed Evans, D – McDowell; Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D – Monongalia; Shawn Fluharty, D – Ohio; William G. Hartman D – Randolph; Sean Hornbuckle (D – Cabell; Linda Longstreth, D – Marion; and Senators Doug Facemire, D-Braxton; and Mike Romano, D-Harrsion. Others legislators were also in the crowd talking with strikers.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, was among Republicans seen meeting and talked with teachers and protester around the Capitol Rotunda on Monday. The Senate president made several stops around the Rotunda, listening to comments and answering questions.