MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A daughter of a coal miner and both a student and teacher of West Virginia’s history, Brooke Jackson said it’s fitting that the rebirth of the labor movement could begin in the Mountain State.
“If a labor movement like this was going to happen anywhere, it was going to happen in West Virginia because of our past history,” said Brooke Jackson, a WV Studies teacher at Suncrest Middle School. “But, I’m sure, to the rest of the nation it does look a little strange that a state that went so red and so pro-Trump has had this big labor uprising.”
“We thought this wasn’t possible, but I think we’re kind of changing the dynamics of the labor movement,” she added.
It’s not quite The Battle of Blair Mountain, where miners fighting for their collective bargaining power literally were met with violence. But Jackson said it’s an indicator of something that remains true nearly 100 years later.
“This isn’t quite as violent as it has been in the past, but I think you’ve seen the red bandannas,” she said. “I think everyone in West Virginia were kind of channeling our past, channeling our history.”
Red bandannas have a lengthy, meaningful history associated with the labor movement.
Picketers in Monongalia County remained out even after the announcement Tuesday morning from the Governor, House Speaker Tim Armstead, and Senate President Mitch Carmichael, as AFT Monongalia WV instructed their picketers to “hold the line” until something concrete was finished.
“Saturday was a frustrating day for all of us,” Jackson said.
Around 1 p.m., the local union instructed picketers to come out of the rain. Jackson said the solidarity of school personnel, in the end, is what made the difference.
“I come from the southern part of the state, my dad’s a coal miner, big UMWA family,” she said. “It means a lot to me, personally. And I’m really proud to see all of my teachers out here fighting for what we deserve.”
Gov. Jim Justice has scheduled a press conference at 3 p.m. Both chambers of the State Legislature passed the amended version of H.B. 4145, an across-the-board pay raise of five percent for all state workers, earlier Tuesday.