To kick off Homecoming week, as part of the Dr. Robert Digman Lecture Series, Alderson Broaddus University Alumni Mark and Jessica Salfia shared their involvement with the West Virginia teachers strike and the national movement that began in the Mountain State.
On February 22, more than 20,000 teachers, bus drivers, cooks, and other public employees didn’t head to work, but instead carried picket signs to champion their cause.
“We started to realize this was something much bigger than just the West Virginia teacher and service personnel walkout. This became a national movement,” said Mark Salfia.
The Salfias spent the session sharing readings and their contributions to the publication 55 Strong: Inside the West Virginia Teachers’ Strike.
“One of the things that West Virginia did was lead this nation into a conversation about how we can better support schools and support teachers,” said Jessica Salfia.
“This was not about pay. This was, really, not even about insurance. It was about understanding that we are valued. We have watched, the working class has watched the haves take advantage of the have-nots forever,” continued Mark Salfia.
All 55 counties united during a 13 day work stoppage to bring attention to issues bigger than anyone could have imagined, and the publication was a tool to give a voice to workers who stood during the stoppage.
“55 United was made up of so much more than just teachers,” said Jessica Salfia. “55 United, 55 Strong, would not have been possible without the cooks, the bus drivers, the school nurses, the aides, the service personnel. This movement was about being united.”
The lecture focused of the insight gained during the stoppage and what is to come during the November election.
“It’s important for us to not necessarily think about party, but to think about who candidates are, who are for teachers, who are for the working class, who stand beside working-class West Virginians,” continued Jessica Salfia.
“It’s time that we start valuing ourselves and valuing, not only education but working-class people all across this country,” said Mark Salfia.
Alderson Broaddus University is hosting a variety of events for the public as part of the Homecoming celebration “Back to the Mountaintop.”