Making the Invisible Visible: What the West Virginia Teachers’ Strike Showed Us All

“Union Maid” by Woody Guthrie
There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come ’round
She always stood her ground.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union, I’m sticking to the union.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union ’til the day I die.
This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn’t be fooled by a company stool, she’d always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She’d show her card to the National Guard
And this is what she’d say
You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who’s a union man and join the ladies’ auxiliary.
Married life ain’t hard when you got a union card,
A union man has a happy life when he’s got a union wife.
Songwriter: Woody Guthrie


Yesterday morning the West Virginia Senate joined the House of Representatives in agreeing to a 5 percent raise for the state’s teachers, support staff, bus drivers and West Virginia state troopers.  School reopens today.  This is a good thing for the state’s children and for the state’s teachers. The downside is that the salary increases will come at the expense of $20 million in cuts to general services and Medicaid.

I keep thinking about watching West Virginia’s teachers on the picket line.

Did you notice how many teachers were involved in the strike? Twenty-thousand of them, according to the papers.  The masses of teachers in red t-shirts seemed overwhelming. The system of public education is enormous even in a relatively small state. So many lives were affected by the strike!

Did you notice that addressing the strike was so essential that the Governor and Legislature really had no choice but…

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