west virginia teacher strike
West Virginia's teacher strike hits seventh day
Public schools in all 55 of West Virginia's counties are closed again Friday, the seventh day in a row, due to the ongoing teacher strike, The Associated Press reports. While Gov. Jim Justice (R) floated a deal with union leaders that would provide a 5 percent pay raise in the first year, the bill stalled in the state Legislature as the Republican-controlled Senate claimed there aren't sufficient funds for the raise. It sent the legislation first to its Finance Committee.
The Senate's lack of haste is in stark contrast to the Republican-controlled House, which quickly and nearly unanimously approved the deal Wednesday night. "I'm trying. What else can I do?" Justice told teachers, as reported by CNN. "I'm not king. I'm doing what all I can possibly do."
The strikes began last week after Justice signed legislation on Feb. 21 giving teachers a 2 percent pay increase this year, followed by 1 percent increases over the following two years. The teachers, who are among the lowest paid in the country, said the action is inadequate.
The teachers additionally cite the rising cost of the state's health insurance system as being one of the driving forces behind the strike: "[People] see us out here and think it's money — they think it's only about the pay raise," Annette Jordan of Hedgesville High told The Atlantic. "It is so not about the pay raise."