HURRICANE, W.Va. — A handful of teachers held signs Friday and waved at passing motorists on Route 34 in front of Hurricane High School. A hundred yards further up the road, a handful of folks staged a similar picket line in front of three dozen or so yellow school buses parked neatly in a row–and idle for the past 7 school days.
“I do not think we’ll return to work Monday,” said Putnam County bus driver Charlotte Caldwell. “I don’t foresee anything happening over the weekend.”
Caldwell and her counterparts are not unlike anyone involved in the ongoing work stoppage. She’s worried about how to afford insurance.
“If everything goes through and PEIA stays the way it is now, I will not bring home a paycheck the 15th of the month because my insurance will take all of it,” she added.
A placard in the windshield of a nearby car read, “Ditch Mitch” a reference to Senate President Mitch Carmichael. The sentiment carries more weight here, since this is Carmichael’s district and those driving by on Route 34 honking their horns in this area really could make a difference in November. It’s a situation which left bus driver Bob Bird in a tough spot.
“I’m a conservative Republican,” he said. “But I agree a lot with Democrats on this.”
Like Caldwell he agreed the number one issue was fixing PEIA and he was hard pressed to trust it would be done. But he said he’d like to see something in writing that would be legally binding. His trust, like most involved in the movement, was wearing thin.
“There are concerns, where did the Governor all the sudden find $60 Million that wasn’t there a day or two earlier,” Bird explained.
He and Caldwell and the rest were adamant however the would stay out as long as it takes, and none of them could hazard a guess how long that might be.
“It is sad for the children,” Caldwell added, “But it also teaches the children that we have to fight for what we need and what we deserve.”