west virginia teachers' strike

4th on the List of Top 10 Wellness Stories

In 2018, employee pushback against outcomes-based wellness went viral as it became a cause de celebre in the West Virginia teacher’s strike, a labor action that ultimately inspired others in a half dozen other states.

This was highlighted in Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 11/9. Though Moore misstated (as he often does) the details of the wellness program that was being imposed by the state’s Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), the disdain with which he described the program’s requirement to wear a Fitbit (not to mention the  biometric outcomes that Moore overlooked) and the reaction from moviegoing audiences was palpable.

It was reminiscent of actress Helen Hunt in 1997 cursing out HMO’s in As Good As it Gets, a moment captured by columnist Ellen Goodman:

Audiences all over America spontaneously burst into applause. It was one of those moments when you know the tide has turned.

Brown University’s left-leaning College Hill Independent encapsulated how the teachers’ plight exemplified a bug in many corporate wellness strategies: the employers’ determination to change only the worker…but never the work:

PEIA places the onus of health on the employee herself, despite the fact that her exhausting lifestyle, as necessitated by an underpaid, stressful job, may be a major contributing factor to her falling sick.