UPDATE: West Virginia teachers: No raise? No school; strike goes on

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTAP, WSAZ and AP) - UPDATE: 03/03/18 11:45 P.M.

West Virginia teachers say they aren't going to return to the classroom until lawmakers approve the 5 percent raise they negotiated with the governor.

The three unions representing the educators announced their decision Saturday after the Senate voted to lower the raise to 4 percent.

With their vote Saturday evening, the Republican-controlled chamber bucked teachers, Republican Gov. Jim Justice and the Republican-controlled House, which approved the 5 percent raise on Wednesday. The two bills will now have to be reconciled. It was unclear how soon that process would begin.

Republican Sen. Greg Boso of Nicholas introduced the change, which he said would cost $17 million less than the 5 percent raise.

The Senate's vote came as the teachers' strike rolled into its second weekend.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 03/03/18 7:00 P.M.

An amendment to the teacher pay raise bill has been passed in the Senate Finance Committee Saturday afternoon.

This amendment lowered the pay raises from 5% to 4% for all West Virginia public employees.

It passed in Committee with a 9-8 vote. This amended bill now heads to the Senate floor for discussion.


UPDATE 3/2/2018 3:40 P.M.

A Senate Finance Committee meeting to discuss the teacher pay raise bill was canceled Friday and rescheduled for Saturday.

Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair made the announcement that the committee will meet again Saturday morning. That meeting will convene one hour after the conclusion of the 9:30 A.M. floor session.

Earlier on Friday, WVEA President Dale Lee says if the Senate does not bring the pay raise bill back to the floor Friday, union leaders will likely be making "an announcement."

Lee did not elaborate on details of that announcement.

House Bill 4145 was passed by the House on Wednesday. It increases the annual salaries of members of the West Virginia State Police, public school teachers and school service personnel.

Friday marked Day 7 of the statewide strike -- impacting 55 counties total.


UPDATE: 03/02/2018, 2:15 P.M.

WVEA President Dale Lee says if the Senate does not bring the pay raise bill back to the floor Friday, union leaders will likely be making "an announcement."

Lee did not elaborate on details of that announcement.

The Senate voted 20-13 Friday to leave the bill in its Finance Committee, which has begun drafting a budget for the next fiscal year. Senators Donna Boley of Pleasants County and MIke Azinger of Wood County voted in the majority.

House Bill 4145 was passed by the House on Wednesday. It increases the annual salaries of members of the West Virginia State Police, public school teachers and school service personnel.

The bill was sent to the Senate, which then sent to its Finance Committee, where it remains.

Friday is the seventh day of the statewide teacher strike.

Teachers say they plan to be at the Capitol until they see the governor's 5 percent raise go through, along with a permanent fix to public insurance (PEIA).

Senate President Mitch Carmichael has proposed to take the increased revenue that had been slotted for a 5 percent pay raise for teachers and state troopers and instead put it toward the increasing costs of health insurance or PEIA is getting mixed reviews from teachers.

That proposal from Carmichael is getting mixed reviews from teachers.

Teachers at the Capitol on Friday say they plan to strike until they see something on paper from the Legislature concerning that bill.

Some teachers say if they could guarantee that extra revenue money would go to PEIA they would make that trade. They say they have doubts and a general mistrust of lawmakers, especially after a day of legislative inaction on the part of the State Senate.

Carmichael met with some teachers Thursday afternoon and asked for patience.

“I want to do this thoughtfully with an analysis that validates these numbers and then ask you — if the numbers are real — where you want to go,” Carmichael told the group.

The bill has been sent to the Senate Finance Committee for review.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says his office is ready to take action if the statewide teacher strike isn't over soon.

"I am prepared to take action because I believe that the work stoppage is unlawful," Morrisey said.

A large rally is expected to start at 1 P.M. Friday at the front steps of the West Virginia State Capitol.


UPDATE: 03/01/18 4:30 P.M.

The Latest on a statewide walkout by teachers in West Virginia over pay and benefits (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

The West Virginia Senate has adjourned for the day without taking up the 5 percent pay raise Gov. Jim Justice negotiated with union leaders to end teachers' weeklong walkout.

The pay-raise legislation was referred the Senate Finance Committee. Chairman Sen. Craig Blair says it won't meet Thursday and wasn't scheduled to meet.

The Martinsburg Republican says it will meet Friday and consider the state budget for next year and other bills.

The Senate's majority Republicans voted earlier Thursday to send the bill to that committee instead of immediately taking it up for floor consideration.

The House on Wednesday night skipped the committee process and voted 98-1 to approve the 5 percent raises to end the walkout that began a week ago.
___

1 p.m.

The West Virginia Senate has voted 20-14 against immediately considering legislation that would provide a 5 percent pay raise to teachers - a key part of the deal negotiated between Gov. Jim Justice and union leaders to end the statewide walkout that has closed public schools for a week.

The Republican-controlled House voted 98-1 on Wednesday night to pass the bill.

All but one member of the Senate's Republican majority voted Thursday not to follow suit and instead refer the bill to the chamber's Finance Committee for review and consideration.

Sen. Tom Takubo, a Charleston Republican, says they have to be fiscally responsible and the more important issue is finding a funding source to stabilize the public employees' insurance plan.

Sen. John Unger, a Martinsburg Democrat, says it will be the Senate's fault for delaying and causing the strike to keep schools closed again Friday.

___

10:55 a.m.

With the state Senate scheduled to reconvene shortly, the Senate clerk says in a tweet that legislation with the 5 percent pay raise for teachers, school service personnel and state troopers has been received and will go first to the Senate Finance Committee.

It was approved by the House 98-1 Wednesday night.

It's accompanied by a revised tax revenue estimate from Gov. Jim Justice, who says that will pay for next year's raises.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael on Wednesday expressed skepticism over the suddenly revised estimate for $58 million additional tax money in the next fiscal year, saying senators will review it.

The governor's office cited increased sales and income taxes from the state's road rebuilding program and future bond sales "and positive feedback associated with federal tax reform."

___

9 a.m.

Thousands of West Virginia teachers have returned to the state Capitol to pressure lawmakers to push through new pay raises for them.

Public schools were canceled in all 55 West Virginia counties Thursday, the day they originally were scheduled to return to the classroom.

The House of Delegates on Wednesday approved a 5 percent pay raise for teachers in the first year. The Senate is expected to consider it Thursday.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael has expressed skepticism about Gov. Jim Justice's suddenly higher projected tax revenues that would pay for the pay boosts.

Middle school teacher Jacob Staggers of Morgantown says union leaders and state officials had expected teachers to return to work, but he says "we're not just going to go back on good faith."

___

1 a.m.

West Virginia's House has OK'd a 5 percent pay raise negotiated by the governor to end a walkout by the state's teachers. Nonetheless, school classrooms in all 55 counties are to remain closed Thursday.

House approval of Gov. Jim Justice's proposed raise came on a 98-1 vote Wednesday evening. It now goes to the Senate for consideration during the day. But Senate President Mitch Carmichael has expressed skepticism about projected tax increases the governor says will help fund pay raises.

Hundreds of teachers have gathered for days at the state Capitol in Charleston, protesting what they say is among the lowest teacher pay in the country. They also are complaining about projected increases in their health insurance costs.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


03/01/18 2;15 P.M.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael says he wants to take the $58 million that Gov. Jim Justice planned to use for the pay raise bill and use it to fix public insurance instead.

Carmichael also says the bill will now move to a committee instead of the Senate for a vote.

He said the Senate is killing all seniority bills that educators are concerned about. Instead of spending $30 million to freeze public insurance, Carmichael says he wants to put it in the budget and not use rainy day fund money.

Carmichael says the Legislature needs a dedicated revenue fund for PEIA. He also says the pay raise that had already passed is sufficient.

Teachers, service personnel, state police and other state employees have voiced concerns about changes to the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA).

Sen. John Unger (D-Berkeley, 16) said if the Senate doesn’t pass the pay raise bill Thursday, he is calling on not just educators -- but all West Virginians -- to come to the Capitol to protest on Friday.


UPDATE: 03/01/18 12:20 P.M.

As West Virginia education workers continue to protest outside the state capitol on Thursday, Senate President Michael Carmichael now says he favors using the money that Gov. Justice intended for state employee pay raises to fix PEIA instead.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to take up the pay-raise bill already passed by the House sometime on Thursday.

The House bill giving 5 percent pay raises to education workers and state troopers passed by a 98-1 vote on Wednesday.

We'll continue to update this story as it develops.


UPDATE: 03/01/18 11:25 A.M.

The Latest on a statewide walkout by teachers in West Virginia over pay and benefits (all times local):

10:55 a.m.

With the West Virginia Senate scheduled to reconvene shortly, the Senate clerk says in a tweet that legislation with the 5 percent pay raise for teachers, school-service personnel and state troopers has been received and will go first to the Senate Finance Committee.

It was approved by the House 98-1 Wednesday night.

It's accompanied by a revised tax revenue estimate from Gov. Jim Justice, who says that will pay for next year's raises.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael on Wednesday expressed skepticism over the suddenly revised estimate for $58 million additional tax money in the next fiscal year, saying senators will review it.

The governor's office cited increased sales and income taxes from the state's road rebuilding program and future bond sales "and positive feedback associated with federal tax reform."

___

9 a.m.

Thousands of West Virginia teachers have returned to the state Capitol to pressure lawmakers to push through new pay raises for them.

Public schools were canceled in all 55 West Virginia counties Thursday, the day they originally were scheduled to return to the classroom.

The House of Delegates on Wednesday approved a 5 percent pay raise for teachers in the first year. The Senate is expected to consider it Thursday.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael has expressed skepticism about Gov. Jim Justice's suddenly higher projected tax revenues that would pay for the pay boosts.

Middle school teacher Jacob Staggers of Morgantown says union leaders and state officials had expected teachers to return to work, but he says "we're not just going to go back on good faith."

___

1 a.m.

West Virginia's House has OK'd a 5 percent pay raise negotiated by the governor to end a walkout by the state's teachers. Nonetheless, school classrooms in all 55 counties are to remain closed Thursday.

House approval of Gov. Jim Justice's proposed raise came on a 98-1 vote Wednesday evening. It now goes to the Senate for consideration during the day. But Senate President Mitch Carmichael has expressed skepticism about projected tax increases the governor says will help fund pay raises.

Hundreds of teachers have gathered for days at the state Capitol in Charleston, protesting what they say is among the lowest teacher pay in the country. They also are complaining about projected increases in their health insurance costs.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 03/01/18 9:05 A.M.

Despite orders to return to class, educators lined up at the state capitol in Charleston on Thursday for Day 6 of the statewide teacher walkout.

As of 8 A.M., a long line of teachers was formed to enter the capitol.

Late Wednesday, the House waived the constitution to get three readings of the pay raise bill -
House Bill 4145 - in one night. The bill passed 98-1.

The Senate had already adjourned Wednesday night by the time the House voted, so teachers say they are back at the capitol to see what happens to the bill.

You can find a table of House Bill 4145's proposed salary raises for teachers, State Troopers and other state employees, under the "Related Documents" section of this story.

One teacher from Kanawha County says if the Senate passes the pay raise bill and the governor signs it, he thinks teachers will be back to work on Friday.

The Senate goes back into session at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael speculated Wednesday that as many as 22 Republicans in the 34-member senate will oppose Gov. Jim Justice's plan.

The teacher also says teachers are happy with the governor's executive order he made concerning PEIA. He says the teachers think it's a good-faith effort to come up with a solution to PEIA.

All schools in the state's 55 counties remain closed Thursday.


UPDATE: 02/28/2018, 7:00 P.M.

The West Virginia House has passed a bill approving a 5% pay raises for education workers and State Police employees.

House Bill 4145 passed with a 98-1 vote on Wednesday night, with Wood County Delegate Frank Deem, who was recently hospitalized, not voting.

The bill will now be considered by the West Virginia Senate.


UPDATE: 02/28/18 6:20 P.M.

Teacher and service-personnel union leaders said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference that teachers should return back to school.

West Virginia Education Association, West Virginia American Federation of Teachers and West Virginia School Service Personnel leaders gathered for the announcement at the state capitol in Charleston.

They said their goal was to get the pay-raise bill introduced and see a promise to work on PEIA.

WVEA President Dale Lee said that bill was introduced and has passed the House Finance Committee. They expect that bill to pass the House before the end of the day Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice issued an executive order to create a task force to create a plan for a permanent fix on PEIA for all state employees. Union leaders say that includes an agreement to hold a task-force meeting before March 15.

They say several possibilities will be looked at to generate funding for fixing PEIA including severance taxes on oil and gas as well as gaming revenue from sports betting.

Several counties have already closed for Thursday.

"We believe the best course of action at this time is to return to school tomorrow, however we realize not everyone will," said Lee.

WVAFT President Christine Campbell says they are watching counties very closely to make sure counties are using the same democratic process that they used to determine a work stoppage last week. They want to make sure all employees have a voice before decisions on tomorrow are made.

Union leaders say they will meet with county leaders Wednesday night.


UPDATE: 02/28/2018, 5:56 P.M.

The West Virginia House Finance Committee has approved a bill funding a 5% pay raise for teachers and State Police officers.

House Bill 4145 was approved Wednesday evening by the House Finance Committee.

This is the bill that includes Governor Jim Justice's new revenue estimates and would allow teachers and school service personnel to get a five percent raise. All other state employees would get a three percent raise.

The bill moves to the full WV House for a vote, then to the Senate.

The House is expected to reconvene Wednesday night to discuss the bill.

This comes as teachers continued the 5th day of a work-stoppage at public schools in all 55 West Virginia counties.

Teachers say a 5% pay raise proposed by Governor Justice on Tuesday is good, but that plan doesn't address concerns with securing funding for PEIA health insurance.


UPDATE: 02/28/18 5:10 P.M.

Following is the complete text of a letter to state employees that Gov. Jim Justice released Wednesday afternoon.

"The Compensation Package that I have put forth will move the state significantly forward with hope for more in the years to come.

Dale Lee and David Haney at the WVEA, Christine Campbell and Bob Brown from the AFT and Joe White, from the School Service Personnel, and myself worked diligently to pull off an incredible package for the state workers of West Virginia. This happened as a result of many of the things I heard from the people that came out to the Town Hall meetings on Monday.

But most of all a little boy that had a lot of wisdom, named Gideon. Gideon reinforced a philosophy of treating education as an investment and as an economic driver. This is the way we ought to look at education. I’ve said this many, many times that we all need to look at education this way.

Input has also been provided from many good legislators. Our Legislature has worked very hard as well to help us achieve goodness for education and all of our state workers. Again, it was my promise to the union representatives that in the years to come we will continue to revisit pay raises.

I have issued an Executive Order today creating a special Task Force, that will include Educators and nothing but West Virginians. That Task Force is being formed right now and will be appointed by the end of the week to address and explore all avenues that will lead to a permanent fix for PEIA. It is important that everyone understand that identifying all of the issues in our healthcare program and finding a solution takes time. A cure won’t come in 30 minutes, but I can promise you this Task Force will begin its work immediately.

While I have placed a moratorium on PEIA for 16 months, finding a solution to this problem needs to be accomplished in a much, much shorter period of time.

There are several possibilities that will be looked at for the revenue we need to solve the PEIA issues once and for all. The possibilities of additional severance taxes on oil and gas, gaming revenue from sports betting, tax dollars being generated from our roads projects, continuing growth in our economy and the possibility of putting the insurance out for competitive bids are just a few; everything is going to be looked at.

I’ve believed from day one that education should be our centerpiece, and I continue to follow that same philosophy today."


UPDATE: 02/28/18 4:50 P.M.

West Virginia's state superintendent of schools, Dr. Steven Paine, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying he expects schools to re-open across the Mountain State on Thursday.

Schools in all 55 counties have been closed since Thursday as teachers and school-service personnel began protesting over salary and benefit concerns at the state capitol and in counties across the state.

As of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Mingo and Gilmer counties have called off for Thursday. Wirt County plans to operate on a two-hour delay.

Union leaders have been meeting throughout Wednesday afternoon with Gov. Jim Justice and his staff to address concerns about the agreement Justice announced Tuesday evening.


ORIGINAL STORY 2/28/18
Several counties across West Virginia are beginning to announce that they will be closed on Thursday, despite the Governor saying the would all return to the classroom.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mingo County Schools announced that they would be closed Thursday, March 1. Gilmer County made the same announcement later.

Wirt County Schools have announced that they will be on a two-hour delay Thursday.

Union leaders are said to be continuing meetings with the Governor and his staff to discuss plans to fix PEIA and the pay raise bill.

UPDATE: 2/28/2018, 2:03 P.M.

West Virginia lawmakers say they await new revenue estimates from Governor Justice's office before they will act on a proposed 5% teacher raise.

A House communications director said there was a discussion on the House floor, and lawmakers are awaiting an official letter from the Governor changing the revenue estimates.

The process is on hold, he says, until the official correspondence comes through, explaining that the Executive Branch sets official budget estimates.

Justice announced Tuesday evening that teachers would receive a 5 percent raise, and a task force will be set up to deal with issues with the state Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA).

Meanwhile at the State Capitol on Wednesday, hundreds of teachers rallied outside of the Capitol, demanding permanent funding for PEIA insurance for state employees.

As of 12:30 P.M. Wednesday, the Governor's Chief of Staff Mike Hall confirms that union leaders are now in another meeting with the governor's office about the statewide strike.

Teachers and service personnel are upset about a proposed deal announced Tuesday that was expected to end the statewide strike.

Wednesday is the 5th day of the teacher and service personnel strike.

"Healthcare is not easily solved and it's not going to be easily solved tomorrow. Now if they can't be happy with what we've done thus far then this is going to be one rough ride, not from my standpoint, but this was a very, very, very difficult push for the House and it's going to be even a more difficult push for the Senate," Governor Jim Justice said on WV MetroNews Wednesday morning.

Governor Jim Justice and union leaders announced a plan late Tuesday that would give educators a five percent pay raise. The Governor also announced that there will be a task force created to work on PEIA and address concerns over the plan.

However, the group at the capitol wants to hear more about a permanent funding fix for PEIA. In fact, many say they want a plan in writing, not just a promise.


UPDATE: 2/28/18 10:35 A.M.

Dozens of teachers and service personnel returned to the West Virginia capitol in Charleston on Wednesday, upset about a proposed deal expected to end a statewide walkout.

Wednesday is the 5th day of the walkout by teachers and service personnel.

As of 7:50 a.m., there was a long line outside of the capitol, similar to what's been seen there for the past several days.

Several people in the line said they are there to voice their disappointment about the proposed deal. The group wants to hear more about a permanent funding fix for PEIA.

Gov. Jim Justice and union leaders announced a plan late Tuesday that would give educators a 5 percent pay raise. The governor also announced that there will be a task force created to work on PEIA and address concerns over the plan.

Many say they don't think that plan is enough.

WSAZ asked WVEA President Dale Lee Wednesday morning if some educators plan to continue the strike Thursday, when school is set to reopen, and he said he was unsure.

‘’There are some angry people out there. We will spend the day explaining everything,’ Lee said.

A teacher from Boone County says a group of educators aren’t ‘’accepting’’ the proposal to end the strike. The teacher says the fight has always been about PEIA, and they’re heading back to the capitol today.

A group of teachers at the capitol also say they are back today because they are upset other state workers who are not in education only got a 3 percent raise under the proposed plan.

The group says they are there for all state employees and they want everyone to get the five-percent raise.

Some educators say they coordinated and organized Tuesday night on social media, and they are expecting big numbers to rally at the capitol Wednesday.


Update: 2/27/2018 8:15 P.M.

The governor's announcement came at the end of an afternoon meeting with teacher and school service personnel association presidents.

Administration officials say the numbers tied to the proposed new pay raises for educators are based on revised revenue estimates based on economic forecasts.

The governor said Tuesday night: "And I hope to goodness the powers that be, whether in the Senate, who were trying to do the prudent thing, and the House, who were trying to do the prudent thing, will look at it and say, 'this is an investment in West Virginia'."

But where will that money come from? The governor talked about looking at ways of increasing energy severance tax revenues. He said he would not veto legislation to be approved, placing oil and natural gas drilling rights on landowners.

"What I see right now, is he's withheld some of these revenue estimates at the beginning, or he has a magic calculator", said a skeptical Del. John Kelly, Republican, Wood County. Kelly added Justice may have tried to be frugal with those original estimates.

"Our reluctance was to raise the severance tax on the new gas and oil business," said Sen. Donna Boley, Republican, Pleasants County. "And if he has the money without raising the taxes, they shouldn't have any problem with that."

While teachers and school service personnel are to return Thursday, association leaders stopped just short of saying they'll stay in the classrooms.

"We're going to reserve the right; our people may have to be called out again," said West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee. "We have to see how the legislative process goes."

Christine Campbell, President, West Virginia Federation of Teachers, was a bit more optimistic.

"The teachers needed evidence, the service personnel," Campbell said, "and I think this is a commitment, but a beginning of better things to happen."

There are ten days left in the current legislative session, which ends a week from Saturday.


UPDATE: 02/27/18 6:25 P.M.

Schools across West Virginia are expected to re-open on Thursday after Gov. Jim Justice announced a deal Tuesday evening that will give all education employees a 5 percent pay raise and other state workers a 3 percent bump in their pay.

Justice announced the deal with union leaders during a news conference shortly after 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

Wood County school announced earlier Tuesday that schools will be closed on Wednesday. They're expected to re-open on Thursday along with other systems across the state.

In his announcement, Justice said a task force will be created to work on a permanent fix for the public-employees insurance program. Proposed PEIA changes have been a major concern of teachers for months and a main sticking point in negotiations since the walkout began last Thursday.

In addition, Justice says will move off his veto stance of an oil-and-gas industry co-tenancy bill. He's hoping severance-tax money from the oil-and-gas industry can be used to make permanent fixes to PEIA.

The governor says because some schools had already announced they will be closed, Wednesday will be considered a "cooling-off" period before classes resume on Thursday.


UPDATE: 2/27/2018, 5:57 P.M.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has scheduled a press conference for 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday, Feb. 27, to discuss the statewide teacher strike.


UPDATE: 2/27/18 4:20 P.M.

Union leaders and Gov. Jim Justice are still negotiating at this hour Tuesday about the statewide teacher strike.

Union leaders announced a short time ago that the meeting has been productive and that negotiations are continuing.

They are expecting Justice to call them back into the meeting in the next hour or two.

Leaders say they feel very good about the progress they’vie made.

Union leaders say they have not made a decision about when the teachers and service personnel could return to school.

They hope to have an announcement once they're finished meeting with the governor.


UPDATE 2/27/18 1:45.

Union leaders and West Virginia Gov. Justice are meeting Tuesday afternoon amid a statewide teacher walkout that's now in it's fourth day.

Union leaders say they have made progress and all unions will be represented at the meeting.

Leaders made the announcement in front of teachers and service personnel that are rallying inside the state capitol in Charleston.

Union leaders say they will not make a decision on whether the work stoppage will continue on Wednesday until after this meeting.


Gov. Jim Justice tells striking teachers and their supporters at a Morgantown high school they should return to work Tuesday, that it will take him seven to 10 days to appoint a task force to address their issues.

He also says they should push for increasing the severance tax on natural gas as a permanent funding source for West Virginia's public workers' insurance program.

Justice was occasionally heckled from some in a crowd of more than 150. He says teachers are underpaid and have been under appreciated but he doesn't currently see state financial data to support more than the 2 percent pay raise he signed into law for them next year.


UPDATE 2/26/18 @ 3:20 P.M.

Thousands packed the West Virginia State Capitol grounds Monday afternoon in a defiant show of protest for striking teachers and state service personnel as they announced the statewide strike will continue Tuesday.

The rally, which included members of the United Mine Workers Association, featured chants and mention of names of civil-rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

"When it comes to breaking the law, I say so what? So what!” said Joe White, executive director of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association. "Some of us would be put in jail for what some are doing."

The crowd frequently broke into chants, including "In November we will remember," "55 strong," "do your job," and "we are united."

"The nation is watching," said Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers. "We need you to do your job so we can do our jobs."

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said "We’re here for the students of West Virginia. I’ve got news for them. Our voices won’t be silenced anymore."

Monday marked the third day teachers and state service workers have been off the job because of stagnant wages, as well as issues with the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

"Your voices and solidarity is making waves across this nation," White said. "Let everybody hear we’re not going to take this anymore. It’s time West Virginia stands up to corporate greed and takes our state back."


UPDATE: 2/26/2018:

This week, the West Virginia Board of Education could consider taking action against school teachers, who were out of their classrooms for the third day in a row on Monday.

In a statement on Saturday the WVBOE said a decision is to be made on Monday whether to add an item to the agenda of the Board's scheduled Tuesday meeting.

That agenda item would be a discussion and a possible vote on legal action.

Teachers across the Mountain State have been off their jobs since Thursday, calling on the State Legislature to increase pay and address problems with the state's Public Employees Insurance Agency health-care plan.

The President of the West Virginia State Education Association, Dale Lee, said:

"What will it take you to get back? What will it take us to get back? We need to start discussions with house and senate leadership and the governor, we need to go back to the table and start to work on solutions that can be satisfactory to the educators across the state and to resolve this."

Teachers continue to hold informational pickets at the three Wood County public high schools and two elementary schools.

There are also pickets today at Wood County's bus garage on Route 95.

In Charleston, a rally is planned Monday afternoon at the State Capitol.


UPDATE: 2/24/2018:

Some West Virginia state employees aren't taking the weekend off as they continue to strike over pay and health benefits.

A handful of public employees picketed right off Edgelawn road in Parkersburg this morning.

Just like West Virginia teachers, they too are picketing for better benefits and wages.

Those who participated also held signs stating 'remember in November’ asking people to consider the public and education employees in voting months later this year.

Sonya Ashby, a school employee, explains “I am the library media specialist at Lubeck Elementary. I have a masters, plus forty five {credit hours}, and a national board certification and I still have to work a second job. And we really need everyone to get out and vote. But don’t just vote, research your candidates. Look at their voting records. See what they are doing to public employees and education.”

They were out there from nine a-m to two thirty this afternoon.



Related Documents
 
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