March 6, 2018
FROM NEA TODAY —
With the eyes of educators across the country on them, West Virginia teachers and service professionals in all 55 counties stood united in an historic nine-day statewide strike that ended Tuesday in victory: a deal that provides 5 percent pay raises for all educators and public employees and establishes a task force inclusive of educators to address a long-term solution to the state’s rising healthcare costs.
“The winners in this are the students of West Virginia and the educators across West Virginia who finally see the first step made towards a true investment in education,” West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) President Dale Lee said.
As the deal was announced Tuesday, hundreds of WVEA members at the state Capitol cheered, some wept with joy. Together, they chanted, “We love our kids!”
The statewide action began on Thursday, February 22nd, following the state legislature’s vote to raise teacher pay by a meager 2 percent this year without addressing the healthcare issues that would more than eat up that increase. But the strike has been years in the making, as West Virginia’s teachers and education support professionals—as well as students and parents—have grown increasingly fed-up with empty promises by state officials to invest in public education.
It took five days of sustained action, accompanied by unrelenting pressure from thousands of union members who rallied passionately at the Capitol every day, for Governor Jim Justice to strike a fair deal with union leaders around the 5 percent raises and the creation of a task force to find a long-term solution for the state’s Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA). He also placed a moratorium on increasing healthcare premiums, or any other changes that would increase costs, until July 1, 2019.
Read the full story HERE.