An announced deal to end the statewide teachers’ strike in West Virginia after four days apparently didn’t go far enough to get teachers back to work.
Gov. Jim Justice offered last week to hike raises 5 percent, and teachers were to return to class March 1, while the increase worked its way through the state legislature. But missing from the tentative deal is a solution for the high premiums many teachers incur under the Public Employees Insurance Agency, though the governor promised to assemble a task force that would include teachers to address the health-care problems. In the meantime, the insurance agency has agreed to freeze health-care premiums and rates for 16 months.
But on the day before schools were to reopen, demonstrating teachers turned out at the statehouse in Charleston to express their dissatisfaction, and the walkout continued. Subsequently, the state Senate rejected the pay boost, even after the House had approved it 98-1.
Strikes are illegal in West Virginia. Teachers could be denied pay, suspended, fired, barred from teaching in a public school for a year, charged with a criminal misdemeanor, or even fined or jailed if they do not comply with a court injunction ordering them to return to work.
A version of this article appeared in the March 07, 2018 edition of Education Week as Announcement of Tentative Deal to End W.Va. Teachers’ Strike Premature