The Latest: West Virginia teachers to end strike Thursday
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Latest on a statewide walkout by teachers in West Virginia over pay and benefits (all times local):
West Virginia Gov. 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.
Justice made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday after emerging from a meeting with union leaders for teachers in all 55 counties.
Justice had signed across-the-board teacher pay raises of $808 next year and $404 the following two years. But teachers had said the increases weren’t enough, especially as health care costs rise. The state’s average teacher pay ranks among the lowest in the nation.
Chief of Staff Mike Hall says the latest pay raise proposal is based on revised revenue estimates of $58 million based on economic forecasts. The pay increases would have to be approved by the Legislature.
Teachers began their walkout on Thursday, their first statewide strike since 1990.
The teachers are represented by the American Federation of Teachers and the West Virginia Education Association. Also are strike are members of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, which includes support staff.
West Virginia’s teachers striking for the fourth day over low pay and rising insurance costs say state legislators are failing to learn their history and civics lessons, which may have to be driven home at the ballot box in November.
All 100 seats in the House and half of the 34 Senate seats are on the ballot. Both chambers are controlled by majority Republicans.
Teachers say they’re paying close attention to specific actions by each legislator, regardless of party, and will vote accordingly. They say it’s a lesson with consequences for state’s children, already facing more than 700 classrooms staffed by uncertified substitutes.
As educated professionals, ranking 48th in pay among states, they say they’ve already been squeezed financially despite past unmet promises from politicians.