West Virginia teachers to return to work Thursday

West Virginia teachers to return to work Thursday

West Virginia teachers to return to work Thursday

Around 20,000 teachers and school workers in all 55 districts of the USA state of West Virginia struck on Thursday and Friday of last week over pay and healthcare costs.

Jim Justice says striking teachers will return to the classroom on Thursday, and he's offering teachers and school service personnel a 5 percent pay raise in the first year.

Pickets continued throughout the state Monday and locally in several locations throughout Wood County.

She says there have been separate talks with various leaders but not with the governor, who spoke at town-hall style meetings Monday in Wheeling, Martinsburg and Morgantown. The Education Commission of the States in 2016 reported that fewer high school graduates are going to college to become teachers and those who do enter the profession often leave it. Math and special education teachers are in especially short supply.

Leaders of teacher unions and their members are calling for salary increases, a permanent fix to healthcare through the Public Employees Insurance Agency and a stop to legislation on what they call attacks on seniority.

Office of Minority Affairs Executive Director William White said the event offers a chance to honor women who have helped improve the lives of West Virginians. "That's what we do everyday". The governor said he hopes the House and Senate will look back at the raise as "an investment in West Virginia".

"We are ready, we are willing".

The West Virginia Board of Education is considering legal action to try to force an end to the work stoppage. State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey have called the walkouts illegal and unlawful.

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"Negotiation is never easy and this is not a flawless deal but may have been best at this time", he said. "I say 'so what?'"

Joining them Thursday was national American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who told the Charleston Gazette-Mail, "They are engaged in a righteous and fundamental American values fight for dignity and respect". Those at the rally began a chant of "Pay your taxes", referencing the millions of dollars in back taxes owed in West Virginia and Kentucky by businesses owned by Justice.

Justice was expected to travel to a handful of counties across the state on Monday, in what unions described as an effort to urge certain districts back to work to weaken the strike. "We need a long-term solution", she said.

"It comes down to we want a fair and steady wage and would like to be out [of] the bottom in teacher pay compared to the rest of the US", Robert May, a teacher at Chapmanville Middle School, told 50 States of Blue in a Twitter message on Monday.

West Virginia employs almost 20,000 classroom teachers in its public schools and has more than 277,000 students enrolled.

Greg Merritt, president of theWood County American Federation of Teachers, said the deal is not flawless, but it is a start.

Merritt said the AFT appreciated the support from the community over the past four days.

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