Breaking News — Teachers Win 5% Raise as Strike Ends

by Duane Nichols on February 28, 2018

Breaking News — Governor Announces End to Strike

After Four Days, West Virginia Teachers Settle Strike for a 5% Raise and a Promise to Evaluate Benefits Plan

Breaking News from The 74 Million, February 27, 2018

Update: At a press conference Tuesday night, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced an end to the four-day teachers’ strike that had closed schools across the state. Teachers and school personnel will receive a 5 percent raise next year, he said, and all other state employees will get a 3 percent increase.

Schools will be back in session Thursday; Wednesday will be a “cooling-off day,” because some schools had already canceled class. Justice also said he will create a task force to evaluate the teachers’ insurance program, which, in addition to low pay, was a cause of the walkout. Union leaders said they reserve the right to pull teachers out of class again if the state legislature does not sign on to the plan.


U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had chimed in on the West Virginia teachers’ strike on its fourth day, saying that good teachers “deserve better pay” but students should not miss school due to adult disagreements.

Across the state, teachers had refused to work since Thursday, affecting about 270,000 students.

Teachers called for higher pay and better benefits, NPR reported. The teachers also oppose laws they say would make it harder for the state to hire good teachers. Teachers have rallied at the capitol in Charleston, West Virginia, and at their schools.

Union leaders demanded to meet with the governor and legislative leaders to discuss the teachers’ concerns. The state’s two teachers unions had rejected a proposed 2 percent pay raise with further 1 percent increases for the next two years, calling it insufficient when health care costs for teachers are on the rise.

“Our issues are clear — our commitment to finding a solution has been consistent; we stand together for our students, our community, and our state,” Christine Campbell, president of the West Virginia chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said at the rally. “We challenge the House leader, the Senate leader, and the governor, to bring us to the table today.”

The strike, which some called a “work stoppage,” could be against the law. State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey tweeted last week that the work stoppage is “unlawful and should come to an end.”

Average teacher pay in West Virginia ranks near the bottom nationally, at $44,701, according to the West Virginia Education Association.

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Jake Johnson March 2, 2018 at 10:48 pm

‘We Will Stay!’ West Virginia Teachers Vote to Occupy State Capitol Until Demands Met

From Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, March 2, 2018

While some have called the West Virginia teachers’ strike “the most important story in the country right now,” MSNBC and other outlets have almost completely ignored it.

Though you may not know it from the corporate media’s coverage—or lack thereof—West Virginia teachers are still striking in an effort to win both a pay raise and a permanent fix to their soaring health insurance premiums, and on Friday they voted to occupy the state capitol until their demands are met.

The teachers chant “We will stay!” shortly following the vote.

Earlier this week, West Virginia’s Republican Gov. Jim Justice and the state’s education union leaders reached an agreement on a bill that would raise teacher pay by 5 percent—meeting, at least in word, one of the teachers’ core demands.

However, the compromise did not offer a permanent fix to the state’s Public Employee Insurance Agency amid rising premiums, so teachers decided to continue striking.

“This has been a huge issue, causing problems for years. They’ve been cutting our health insurance over and over, making it really expensive to survive,” Jay O’Neal, a middle-school teacher and union activist in Charleston, said in an interview with Jacobin on Thursday.

On Friday, the mass walkout—which has left schools in all of West Virginia’s 55 counties closed—entered its seventh day.

As the demonstrations raged on in the state capitol, West Virginia lawmakers voted against bringing a teacher pay raise bill to the Senate floor for immediate consideration, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on Friday.

While some have called the West Virginia teachers’ collective struggle for justice “the most important story in the country right now,” many mainstream media outlets—including so-called liberal networks like MSNBC—have either neglected the strike or almost completely ignored it.

“Save for one two-minute throwaway report from daytime show ‘Velshi and Ruhle,’ MSNBC hasn’t dedicated a single segment to the strike—despite the strike’s unprecedented size and scope,” media analyst Adam Johnson observed in a piece for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) on Friday.

“The most glaring omission is from the three highly paid primetime hosts: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, and former In These Times and Nation writer Chris Hayes. None of the three big hosts have tweeted about it, much less mentioned the subject on air.”


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