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AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera said, “Being forced into a strike is always the last resort for workers—the dedicated school system in West Virginia and graduate workers at the University of Illinois—are no exceptions. I am an educator first and hate for any child to miss school, but the long-term benefits of having a better education system in West Virginia are worth the short time schools remain closed. Educators in West Virginia are among the lowest-paid in the nation. Their strike is a call for quality education by simply seeking a fair deal and respect from state officials. West Virginia officials should work with educators to end the strike and get students back to learning.”

Raritan Valley Community College-AFT Faculty Federation Executive Board Member Carl Lindskoog said, “As a former graduate worker union leader and current history professor, I know tuition waivers enable graduate workers to pay for school by teaching classes and conducting valuable research. Waivers are necessary so that working class students—not just the children of the wealthy—will be able to afford to dedicate themselves to completing graduate programs. While public sector unions face a simultaneous prospect of being weakened nationwide by the Supreme Court through the Janus v. AFSCME case, West Virginia teachers and University of Illinois graduate students are taking collective actions of resistance by striking for workers’ rights. These courageous workers deserve to be recognized as making a sacrifice to improve conditions for students, workers and the community as a whole and should be fully supported in their efforts.”

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