Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

West Virginia: 15000 Teachers Strike over Low Pay, Healthcare Costs

2-19 Eagle 2 West Virginia: 15000 Teachers Strike over Low Pay, Healthcare Costs
Melinda Barton | 23 February, 2018, 05:27

The Huffington Post reported the strike is set for Thursday and Friday and, if it goes ahead, will mark the first time in 30 years that teachers and school personnel in West Virginia schools districts walked off their jobs.

More than 1,000 demonstrators were in line Thursday morning at the Capitol's West Wing entrance, waiting to express their displeasure with state lawmakers.

Teachers and school staff strike in West Virginia and talk to Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT. "They are engaged in a righteous and fundamental American values fight for dignity and respect".

Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill Wednesday night that gives teachers a 2% pay increase in July and a 1% raise each of the next two years.

"The entire state of West Virginia will be shut down", said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association.

Earlier this week, West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency Finance Board unanimously approved a freeze on the premiums and benefits for the 2018-2019 plan year. "We certainly recognize our teachers are underpaid", Justice says. Elliot Kendle, of the Wetzel County Education Association, has noted that the informational pickets and walk-ins that are taking place throughout Wetzel County are demonstrations "of our solidarity with and support of teachers, education service personnel, and other public employees throughout West Virginia". This is also about our social workers and our state troopers.

"These are issues we've wanted to address for a while now", said Scott High teacher Kelli Vance.

Both Wetzel and Tyler Board of Educations have passed resolutions to support their teachers and service personnel.

"I believe the concern [about students] is well founded, especially in a poorer state such as West Virginia", said Kiner, "but I also trust the judgement of the teachers to not only do what's best for themselves but their students". "We are not going to hurt them".

"Work stoppages by public employees are not lawful in West Virginia and will have a negative impact on student instruction and classroom time, " West Virginia Schools Superintendent Steve Paine said in a statement on Tuesday.

"We passed out a measure that is now in the Senate that would provide a limited funding stream for PEIA, so I think the ball is in the other chamber's court at the moment", said Delegate Jeffrey Pack, (R) Raleigh. "This illegal work stoppage affects hundreds of thousands of students and families across our state".

"To us, this freeze doesn't fix anything", said Sarah Lough, a middle school teacher in Lewis County, during a public hearing hosted by the PEIA Finance Board on February 13.