Weekend News & Commentary — February 24-25, 2018
West Virginia teachers are expected to continue striking for the third consecutive school day on Monday, in the state’s second-ever teacher strike. The first strike, which occurred in 1990, lasted for eight school days, did not include non-teacher personnel, and never obtained the support of all fifty-five counties (the strike started with eight counties, eventually extending to to forty-seven counties). This time, workers are more united, as both teaching and non-teaching personnel are striking across all counties. While West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed a bill on Wednesday to raise teachers’ pay for the first time since 2014–an increase of two percent next school year, and one percent in the two school years thereafter–those striking assert that more important than raising the state’s forty-eighth-ranked teacher pay is preventing cuts to their health-care and benefits plans.
Despite recent free agent deals for All-Stars such as Yu Darvish and Todd Frazier, Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark remains concerned, as “one-third of the 166 players who exercised free agency rights last November have not reached a contract agreement.” This group includes star players such as World-Series Champion Jake Arrieta. While Clark did not go so far as to mention collusion among owners, an accusation that has been suggested by players’ agents, he did express worry about teams purposefully fielding non-competitive teams. The current collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the MLBPA remains valid through the next four seasons. We’ve covered this continually developing story in prior “News & Commentary” columns on February 5 and February 13, respectively.
Oral arguments before the Supreme Court begin tomorrow (Monday) in Janus v. AFSCME. At issue is the constitutionality of mandatory union fees for public employees who, while part of a collective-bargaining unit, are purposefully not union members. In advance of Monday’s arguments, union workers from across the country rallied on Saturday, including thousands in Columbus, Ohio and hundreds in St. Paul, Minnesota. In New York City, rallying union members were joined in support by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo. See all of our coverage of Janus here.