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WV teachers stoppage evokes memories of 1990 WV teachers strike


For the Logan Banner

LOGAN, W.Va. — In the West Virginia Encyclopedia, there is only one entry under “Teachers’ Strike,” though that’s sure to soon change. Only once before had the state’s storied history of labor conflict starred school employees, the most viable job option in many counties, prior to 2018.

Although the 11-day statewide teachers’ strike of 1990 transpired before many new teachers were even born, many details mirror the issues of the current day. What sparked that movement was teacher salaries and the inability of union leaders, state legislators and then-Gov. Gaston Caperton to negotiate an agreement as the legislative session drew to a close.

In 1990, West Virginia teachers earned an average of $21,904 annually, which ranked them 48th nationwide. By comparison, the national average teacher salary at the time was more than $26,000.

As tensions and talks of statewide action quickened, Caperton proposed a package on March 5, 1990, that included a 5 percent pay increase for teachers and higher education employees, refusing further concessions that would deviate from what he considered a balanced budget.

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