Governor announces deal to end West Virginia teachers' 9-day strike
Governor announces deal to end West Virginia teachers' 9-day strike
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07 March, 2018, 11:51
Now all it needs is the governor's signature.
Early last week, it seemed like there was a bit of hope, as Governor Jim Justice announced that after a state-wide tour and town hall meetings, a local sixth grader, Gideon Titus Glover, had made him think about the situation a different way.
The contract also covers more than 10,000 support staff. Justice said money will be found elsewhere in the budget to allow the state to provide a 5% pay hike to all state employees. "All the focus should have always been on fairness and getting the kids back in school". Schools are anticipated to be open for class again Wednesday.
"Teachers, school service personnel and state employees deserve the best, and I applaud news of an agreement that will increase salaries and end our state's work stoppage", West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said.
The walkout across the Appalachian state left more than 277,000 students idle as their teachers flooded the state capitol in Charleston to protest. As of now, a long term solution to PEIA has not been established.
Emboldened by support from district leaders and students and the absence of potential replacements (thanks to the teacher shortage), teachers' new sense of empowerment appears to be setting a precedent for other rural state unions to take action.
The strike continued through the end of last week. Instead the Senate countered with an offer of 4 percent on Saturday, prompting leaders of all three unions representing the state's teachers to announce that they would extend their walkout. A legislative conference committee was appointed to resolve differences between bills in the House and Senate. On Tuesday, the Senate agreed to a 5 percent raise, ending a labor strike.
"It's enormous", Boothe told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou.
In one of the reddest states, a huge victory for workers.
Outside the state legislature Tuesday morning, teachers celebrated the deal and demanded that both chambers pass the agreement. "We have cash in the balances in Medicaid that will absolutely backstop any cuts whatsoever from Medicaid". "Don't do this on the backs of the Medicaid recipients".
Speaking to his members on Monday evening, West Virginia Educational Association head Dale Lee noted that only 20 legislators out of 134 actually opposed the pay raise, and said the whole thing had devolved into "petty politics and ego".
The raises for West Virginia employees were estimated to cost $110 million a year.
Still, West Virginia teachers have shown that organized workers can still have clout in the inevitable post-Janus America if their cause is just and their resolution strong.
"We overcame, we overcame!" said one teacher, Danielle Harris ABC news reported. "It shows (students) how democracy is supposed to work, that you don't just bow down and lay down for anybody".
It will be up to individual schools to decide if and when they will make up the days missed.
"This is very positive", said Tina Workman, a second-grade teacher from Midland Trail Elementary in Kanawha County who has been at the Capitol each day with other striking teachers. "It's the idea and the premise that we ought to invest in education and let education be an economic driver for us".
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