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West Virginia teachers went on strike over…wellness???

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I cannot make this stuff up.  While there were other issues too, here is the article.  Scroll down towards the end and you’ll see that getting rid of the wellness program ranked right up there with a pay raise in worker demands, becoming the key issue for them even after the pay raise was agreed upon:

It wasn’t so clear any longer that a pay raise could resolve them. Quite quickly, it was apparent that the union’s membership…would reject the deal. “I live paycheck to paycheck,” Katie Endicott, a thirty-one-year-old high-school teacher from Gilbert, told the Times. Then she recounted the program, mandated by the state’s new health-insurance program, that required teachers to download an app that would check how many steps they took each day.

“If I don’t earn enough points, and if I choose not to use the app, then I’m penalized $500 at the end of the year,” she said. “People felt that was very invasive.” 

The irony, of course, is that this is far from the most invasive wellness program we’ve ever seen. It wouldn’t even be subject to the forthcoming rules reflecting the AARP v. EEOC decision. Plus, taking some extra steps is a good idea in general, and especially in the state with the country’s second-highest obesity rate.

Still, the fact that an activity tracking program was considered repugnant enough extend a strike over is Exhibit A that WillisTowersWatson is right: employees hate wellness. Not all wellness, of course, but rather forced voluntary wellness programs just like this one.


  1. billfabrey says:

    Good reporting. I’d like to add, however, that whatever the obesity rate may be in WV, an invasive “extra steps” program probably won’t help much. It might indeed help improve fitness levels, but it is unlikely to affect obesity oer se.


    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      Yes, it could improve fitness, but the important thing is, it won’t harm anyone. As you’ve no doubt noticed if you follow Bravo, Wellsteps, Interactive Health etc., not harming employees is a pretty high hurdle for a wellness program.


  2. […] is not an aberration. One union even went on strike over their wellness program (ironically, one of the best such programs), while the Penn State […]


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