March 18, 2018

No end in sight for strike of 20000 West Virginia teachers

03 March 2018, 01:37 | Virginia Santiago

West Virginia Gov. tells school superintendents Senate must approve pay raise bill

All of West Virginia's teachers have been on strike for over a week

Jessica Salfia, an English teacher at Spring Mills High School in Berkeley County, told The Atlantic website that the strike was on behalf of all state workers who are affected by the PEIA's rising costs. On Wednesday, the state's House of Representatives reached a deal that would give the teachers a 5% raise and other state workers a 3% bump.

Fast-tracked through the House Finance Committee and onto the floor Wednesday evening, House Bill 4145 now calls for a 5 percent salary increase for teachers, service personnel and state troopers.

Gov. Jim Justice's proposed 5 percent pay raise to end the walkout by West Virginia teachers is getting a mixed reception in the Legislature where approval is needed. "In addition we will be providing the pay raise that has already been adopted". Panel chairman Sen. Craig Blair says it won't meet Thursday and wasn't scheduled to meet.

The WSWS Teacher Newsletter issues a warning to strikers: If teachers let the unions and the government take control of the strike and direct the workers' justified anger into pressuring the two parties, they will be isolated and defeated. On Thursday, senators voted against a motion to bring the plan to a vote immediately.

Teachers were supposed to return to the classroom Thursday after Gov. Jim Justice announced Tuesday he had struck a deal with leaders of unions. Wednesday, the independent, Democrat and Republican introduced a bill to cut off financial and logistical support for Saudi Arabia's bombing and blockade of Yemen, which has left over 15,000 dead and created more than a million cases of cholera. And that made many teachers nervous. My county is the biggest, and we had to find a way to allow all school employees to vote on this in a matter of hours.

Those percentages equate to yearly increases of $2,160 for State Police, $1,100 for School Service Personnel, and $2,020 for Teachers.

Carmichael told Senate members the revised numbers indicating an additional $58 million in revenue for the state this year had been received the Senate, and "as good stewards of the taxpayer dollars", leadership wanted to examine them more carefully. The state Senate approved the bill last week.

All of West Virginia's teachers have been on strike for over a week
West Virginia Senate refuses to vote on teacher raises

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".

West Virginia ranked 48th among the 50 states in average teacher's salary in 2016, at $45,622, according to National Education Association data. In Oklahoma, 8,000 teachers have signed a petition to call out all 41,000 teachers on strike, demanding an immediate $10,000 raise.

The Senate is expected to consider it Thursday sometime after it convenes at 11 a.m.

"We believe the best course of action at this time is to return to school tomorrow, however, we realize not everyone will", WVEA President Dale Lee said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, referencing the fact that the decision of whether to go back to work fell to each individual county.

In West Virginia, there is-remember, there's no collective bargaining in West Virginia. All 55 counties statewide were reporting closings Thursday night, according to the West Virginia Department of Education website.

Carmichael said the focus should be on PEIA.

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