West Virginia’s Teacher Walkout Shines A Light On Pay Inequality

The teachers in West Virginia are heading to Charleston. They want West Virginia lawmakers to wake up and fix their healthcare benefits and salaries. West Virginia ranks 48th in the country for average teacher pay, according to a 2017 study. On February 25th, the teachers in all 55 West Virginia counties said there will be no school on the 26th. Some teachers claim the weather is the cause, and other teachers say they are not getting paid enough. County school boards know the weather is not the issue. Inequality in pay and benefits are the reasons for the walkout.

Teacher union leaders and union members want a salary increase, and they want a permanent increase in their healthcare benefits through the Public Employee Insurance Agency. Teachers also want to stop the attacks on teacher seniority.

Governor Jim Justice signed a bill calling for a two percent salary increase in 2018, and a one percent increase in 2019 and 2020. But the teachers say that’s not enough to keep up with the inflation that is slowing creeping through the state’s economy.

No one is sure how long the teachers will stay away from school. State officials are calling the walkout illegal, but some teachers want to make a statement that all lawmakers understand. House Speaker Tim Armstead said lawmakers are listening, so there is no need to continue the walkout. But thousands of teachers are going to the Capitol to make sure those lawmakers get their message in person.

March 21, 2018

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