West Virginia Braces for Statewide Teacher Strike

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“We will strike; we will strike,” shouted teachers and supporters last Friday at the Capitol.

This scene is about to repeat itself, as teachers and supporters will again converge on the capitol Thursday and Friday, during a statewide teacher strike. While the House and Senate have now approved a salary increase for teachers starting with 2-percent the first year; many Democrats wanted it to be 3-percent. 

“Well I think that that’s only reasonable considering that they’ve not had a pay raise since 2014. They’re not asking for the moon. They just want a little bit to help them out with the rising cost of everything,” said Del. Rick Moye, (D) Raleigh. 

“In order to have a prosperous society, we need to value our teachers and our public employees,” said Del. Barbara Evans Fleischauer, (D) Monongalia.

But Republican leaders say they’ve done a lot to support the teachers, and the state simply can’t afford a bigger pay raise.

“If you look out over 5-years, it’s over 14-thousand dollars, raise for the teachers. I think while not as much as we’d like to do, it’s the best we can do,” said Del. Ron Walters, (R) Kanawha.

Others say the strike is not fair to students.

“Quite frankly I believe our students should be in school, and you know certainly I respect the fact that our educators and our school service personnel want to bring attention to these issues,” said Del. Paul Espinosa, Chairman, (R) Jefferson – Education Committee.

Aside from pay increases, the other big issue is funding PEIA the health plan for state workers and retirees, and Republican leaders say they’ve now done that.

“Right now things are relatively quiet in the hallways of the capitol, but that will change soon. Hundreds, if not thousands, of teachers and supporters will assemble here Thursday and Friday in a two-day statewide strike,” said Mark Curtis 13 News Chief Political Reporter.

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