West Virginia teachers will strike for eighth day after legislative impasse

07 March, 2018, 00:15 | Author: Bert Pena
  • MGN Online

Educators, school staff and their supporters have descended on the state Capitol, holding daily rallies outside legislative chambers where they chant "55 United", a reference to West Virginia's 55 counties.

All public schools have been closed across the state, leaving about 277,000 students out of school and about 30,000 employees on the picket line as workers fight for the higher pay that now ranks amongst the lowest in the nation and rising health care costs.

During the committee meeting Saturday evening, members reduced the pay increase for teachers, school service workers and State Police troopers from 5 percent to 4 percent.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice and the Republican-led House of Delegates have already agreed to the 5 percent raise teachers are demanding. While the state House passed a bill that includes a 5% raise, the Senate passed a bill with only a 4% raise.

Republican Delegates Paul Espinosa and Bill Anderson - along with Democrat Brent Boggs - were appointed to the committee.

Two Eastern Panhandle lawmakers serve on the committee - state Sen.

Justice had announced a similar deal a week ago, and union leaders accepted the proposal.

However, that raise must be passed as a law, since West Virginia is not a collective bargaining state. "If this gets legs, I really think it's going to take the parents in addition to teacher groups for this to be a possibility", Bartlesville superintendent Chuck McCauley told The Tulsa World in February. "[And let's] talk about what is a possible compromise, if any". "For 1 percent we're going to let kids go hungry", he said. "Those are our options".

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"We feel like we're under attack constantly", Cody Thompson, a social studies and civics teacher at Elkins High School, told local news outlet WVVA.

With the state's teachers saying they are ready to stay out of school until a satisfactory deal is reached, the rituals that mark spring in the state's schools are at risk of cancellation: the boys and girls state basketball tournaments, speech competitions, school plays, even graduation. "Everybody here needs to know, from the absolute get-go, I am an educator". "I'm just so excited".

Last week, Justice approved $58 million in projected new revenue for the state next year. Although he did not motion on the bill Monday, Plymale said he would be prepared to do so at the Tuesday meeting. Charles Trump, a Berkeley Springs Republican. Senators Ferns and Blair continued to question the validity of the governor's adjusted revenue estimates. "And, so, it further affirms our concerns with hearing that the executive branch is receiving phone calls from some of the bond rating agencies".

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said during a forum at Ripley High School Sunday that while he "can't go into it, [union leaders] are exploring all avenues that [they] have in this". He said visitor access was cut off about an hour later. With no end to the strike in sight, Ohio County officials are rushing a plan, in cooperation with the teachers' union membership, that could be in place as early as Wednesday to allow students, teachers, coaches, and other advisors to return to facilities for after-school activities, but not classes, in the afternoon.

"They seem to have a plan".

Carmichael has said he finds the projections hard to believe and wants to examine them more closely.

According to joint rules of the Legislature, the conference committee's deadline can be extended for one day by adopting a concurrent resolution by midnight Tuesday.

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