Teaching Profession

West Virginia Teacher Strike Not Over Yet

By Brenda Iasevoli — March 01, 2018 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Despite a deal struck with the governor on Tuesday night that included a 5 percent pay raise, West Virginia teachers will not go back to school today as planned. They are demanding a fix to health care first.

The 5 percent pay raise is working its way through the legislature and has passed in the house on a 98-1 vote. The senate is expected to consider the bill today.

But missing from the deal is a solution for the high premiums many teachers incur under the Public Employees Insurance Agency.

On Feb. 27, when Gov. Jim Justice offered the pay raise, he also 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.

“It is important that everyone understand that identifying all of the issues in our health-care program and finding a solution takes time,” the governor said in a statement. “A cure won’t come in 30 minutes, but I can promise you this task force will begin its work immediately.”

Justice has suggested raising revenue to fund health care through taxes on oil and gas, and through gaming revenue generated by sports betting. Insurance may also be opened to bids from health-care companies, he said.

But on Wednesday, the day Justice had declared a “cooling off period” before schools would reopen on Thursday, teachers didn’t appear satisfied with the pay raise and promise to fix health care. They crowded into the capitol singing, “We’re not gonna take it,” according to CNN. They also chanted: “See you Thursday!” and “See you Friday!” outside of the governor’s office.

The teacher strike began Feb. 22 over low wages and the rising cost of health-care premiums. Legislation signed before the strike gave teachers a 2 percent pay raise starting in July, followed by an additional 1 percent hike in each of the next two fiscal years. The raise came with no remedy for rising health care costs.

Striking in West Virginia is illegal. 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.

Photo: Dressed in an Uncle Sam costume, Parry Casto, a 5th-grade teacher at the Explorer Academy in Huntington, W.Va., leads hundreds of teachers in chants outside the state Senate chambers at the Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., on March 1. John Raby/AP


See also:


A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Reported Essay Students Aren’t the Only Ones Grieving
Faced with so many losses stemming from the pandemic, what can be done to help teachers manage their own grief?
4 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Teaching Profession We Feel Your Grief: Remembering the 1,000 Plus Educators Who've Died of COVID-19
The heartbreaking tally of lives lost to the coronavirus continues to rise and take a steep toll on school communities.
3 min read
090321 1000 Educators Lost BS
Education Week
Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor Educators Have a Responsibility to Support the Common Good
A science teacher responds to another science teacher's hesitation to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
1 min read
Teaching Profession With Vaccine Mandates on the Rise, Some Teachers May Face Discipline
With a vaccine now fully FDA-approved, more states and districts will likely require school staff get vaccinated. The logistics are tricky.
9 min read
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state in Hayward, Calif., on Feb. 19, 2021. California will become the first state in the nation to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant.
Grace John, who works at a school in San Lorenzo, gets a COVID-19 shot at a mobile vaccination clinic in Hayward, Calif. California is among those states requiring all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
Terry Chea/AP