On March 14, 1969, recently fired highway workers marched on the state capitol building in Charleston, protesting their abrupt dismissal by Governor Arch Moore three days earlier.
On March 3—11 days before the march on the capitol—more than 2,600 public road maintenance workers had walked off the job, demanding that the state recognize their union.
Governor Moore—only three months into his first term—fired the strikers, making an example of them to any other public employees who might be thinking about unionizing. Ultimately, 530 of the highway workers reclaimed their jobs, but more than 2,000 were dismissed permanently.
Despite Moore’s early stance against the public employees, his time in the governor’s office also benefited workers in some ways. He pushed to get hospital insurance for 61,000 state and county workers and to give $1,500 pay raises to public schoolteachers, along with somewhat smaller pay increases for other school staff.
Plus, he pressured the legislature to increase workers compensation benefits by as much as 75 percent and helped settle a national coal strike, putting about 39,000 West Virginia coal miners back to work.