West Virginia teachers announce walkout

Galtero Lara
Febrero 19, 2018

Picketing and rallies continue as West Virginia teachers and public employees gather at the capitol Saturday. School-related sports events will be decided by each county on an individual basis. Gov. Jim Justice and legislators have delayed for one year changes to PEIA, which is the state's public employees insurance fund. Employees have argued the cost of insurance, as well as planned changes to PEIA, have caused overall pay to drop in recent years while still decreasing benefits.

A statewide teacher work stoppage has been announced for Thursday and Friday.

West Virginia School Superintendent Steven Paine will speak this morning on a conference call with the state's superintendents to help them determine their next course of action.

Adena Barnette, president of the Jackson County Education Association and a member of the WVEA executive board, said Sunday while she remains hopeful legislators will address these issues, she is not confidant it will happen before Thursday. "It wouldn't have to be that we think it's going to be done, we have to know", Thompson said.

"I think what the Legislature is doing is just despicable".

A bill to increase wages for teachers and other state employees has been moving through the legislative process, but after changes made in the House of Delegates, it was moved to a Rules Committee in the Senate last week.

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Shortly after the Friday vote, state Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, adjourned the Senate until evening.

Teachers and public employees have been demonstrating for weeks, including a large protest Friday.

But teachers and other state employees say it isn't enough. "I'm losing money", said Gary. The state Senate earlier approved 1 percent raises annually for five years.

"Considering the state is recovering from five straight years of budget deficits, I don't know what more the state is capable of doing now", Ferns said.

A work stoppage announcement does not necessarily mean that schools will be closed. "Teachers and service personnel are the only ones that truly know what it's like to have that kind of pressure in your job, and we watch over your children, our children, and pray for them to always be more than just OK". We care about our students and we care about their future. This action is actually providing teachable moments. This statewide action is unheralded and it sends a clear message.

Merritt said Wood County residents will see some activity Thursday and Friday. "Many employees plan to travel to Charleston to lobby legislators in person".

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