Strike should not be repeated

Members of West Virginia’s three big unions for public school teachers and service personnel will be asked this week to authorize another strike — and that, semantics and legal technicalities aside, is the word for it.

Another lengthy work stoppage like the one that shuttered nearly all public schools in the state for nine days last year would be highly detrimental to the very children union leaders claim to be defending. For that reason alone, let us hope union teachers and service personnel reject anything like what happened less than a year ago.

Teachers and service employees also should consider that it is less likely another strike would have the level of public support present last year. Then, they were demanding a pay raise — and they received it. This year, the very legislative bill containing some provisions to which they object includes another pay boost.

The measure, Senate Bill 451, passed by a narrow margin in the Senate this week and has now moved on to the House of Delegates. Its prospects there are unclear.

But last Friday, leaders of the three unions said the organizations will be distributing ballots to members this week. The question will be whether “to call for a statewide work action should circumstances surrounding the omnibus education bill merit such a work action,” according to one union official.

Union members will have very little time to think about how they vote. They cannot know with certainty how SB 451 will fare in the House. Nor can they foresee accurately what effect it will have if it is enacted. No one can.

What the union members can know as they vote is the effect another strike would have on our state, our communities and — by far most importantly — our children’s educations.

We are not alone, we are certain, in hoping and praying there is no strike this year.