After nine days of protest, West Virginian teachers and educational workers will receive a five-percent raise. State employees will also see an increase in pay.
MetroNews reported the state legislature struck a deal with educators on the morning of March 6. The House of Delegates and Senate passed the bill unanimously.
West Virginian teachers first garnered national attention after walking out of schools to protest stagnant wages. Teachers became frustrated with the lack of raises as well as increasing healthcare costs. Additionally, they called out the state, saying there needed to be a greater focus on education.
At first, Gov. Jim Justice proposed one- and two-percent increases in teachers’ pay. Not satisfied with that, educators continued their protests. Justice made other mistakes, too, including when he called teachers “dumb bunnies.” Teachers responded quickly and loudly, both at town halls and online.
But, with those comments behind them, educators and the state government both expressed their excitement after the deal was struck. Upon hearing the news the bill had passed in the legislature, teachers broke out into song, singing “Country Roads.”
Justice and state legislators were all smiles at a press conference held after the bill’s passage. “What a good day,” said Justice, who seemed relieved to have finally reached an agreement.
The teachers’ efforts really paid off and illustrated that palpable change can come about through political action. Educators and legislators worked together, prioritizing education and thus investing in the state’s future.