Teachers' Walkout of 1980

Teachers in 30 counties vote to walk out

By Betsy Cook

The Charleston Gazette
March 21, 1980

Education associations in 30 counties have voted to participate in the planned statewide walkout of teachers at 1 p.m. today at Laidley Field.

Teacher groups in 18 of the other 25 West Virginia counties have voted not to participate, while seven counties have decided to send delegations representing their counties, without interrupting classes.

The walkout was called by the West Virginia Education Association to protest the $950 pay raise granted teachers by the Legislature. The WVEA had requested a $3,000 raise.

Bill Rainey, WVEA communications specialist, said from 3,000 to 5,000 state teachers are expected at the rally today. "But, there is really no way of telling until 1 p.m.," he said.

Counties supporting today's walkout include Kanawha, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Fayette, Doddridge, Gilmer, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Marshall, Mason, Mercer, Mingo, Monongalia, McDowell, Nicholas, Ohio, Pocahontas, Preston, Putnam, Roane, Taylor, Tyler, Wayne, Wetzel, Wyoming and Webster.

Counties voting not to participate in today's event include Barbour, Berkeley, Brooke, Grant, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Lewis, Monroe, Morgan, Pendleton, Pleasants, Raleigh, Randolph, Ritchie, Summers, Upshur and Wood.

Officers of education associations in the counties of Greenbrier, Hampshire, Jackson, Jefferson, Mineral, Tucker and Wirt said delegations will be representing the counties at the walkout, but school systems will be open and other teachers will cover for those absent.

Jerry DeLuca, vice president of the Tucker County Education Association, said teachers feel that staying out of the classroom will not help things in Tucker County. "However, we do support the efforts of WVEA against the actions of the Legislature, so we will send a delegation of teachers, and their classes will be covered by other teachers."

Gerald Bisset, president of the Hampshire County association, said a group of teachers attending today's walkout have been "properly excused by the county board of education."

In Jefferson County, a delegation will attend the walkout by taking leave without pay, said Charles Kline. "To help with these teachers' loss of pay, other teachers are donating money to make up for the money that those attending the event will lose."

On the eve of the proposed walkout, state schools Superintendent Roy Truby made a last minute appeal. He said schools would be open today and encouraged parents to send their children. He asked administrators to stand firm on the "no work, no pay" rule.

Truby said the decision of whether to participate will have to be made by each teacher individually.

Kanawha County Superintendent Robert Kittle said he wanted to reassure parents and citizens of Kanawha County that the county's schools will be open today. Classes will be dismissed after the morning session for a scheduled teacher in-service training, he said.

Kittle said the board made a decision that would provide teachers an opportunity to do what they wished to do at noon by the rescheduling. He is requiring all teachers who are absent today to fill out a form giving the reason for their absence.

Marian Alston, president of the Kanawha County Association of Classroom Teachers, said, in the beginning, Kanawha County teachers voted for full participation and to sacrifice the day, but individuals would have to decide if they will attend the morning session of classes.

A group of about 150 Kanawha County teachers gathered for a rally Thursday and made plans to meet at 10 a.m. today at the Capitol to distribute materials.

The Kanawha County Board of Education warned teachers Wednesday night that any teachers participating in the protest today by staying off their jobs will be disciplined.

"As required by statute, the Kanawha County Board of Education will discipline employees who strike in violation of state law and their contracts," said Alice Moore, board president.

Ms. Alston said Kanawha County teachers have never been encouraged to try illegal acts. "Obviously, Mrs. Moore has been misinformed about our efforts," Ms. Alston said. "We have always intended to protest the actions of the Legislature, not advocate illegal actions against the board of education. All along we have asked teachers to sacrifice a day's pay, not to attempt an illegal act."


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