As the West Virginia Teachers' Strike Continues, Students Feel Its Effects

As the West Virginia Teachers' Strike Continues, Students Feel Its Effects

As a West Virginia teacher - and I've been teaching 10 years - I only clear right under $1,300 every two weeks, and they're wanting to take $300 more away for me.

"They understand. They get it, and it's so great to see them side by side with their teachers on the capitol steps, doing the chants and fighting for what the teachers deserve", she said.

The West Virginia strike is the most current in the state's history of militant labor battles, albeit less bloody.

MOLLY BORN, BYLINE: Thanks, Michel.

Instead of an occupation, however, teachers made a decision to flood the Capitol yet again over the weekend. Republican governor, Jim Justice agreeing on Twitter writing, "Education should be your centerpiece and I have worked tirelessly to get our teachers the 5%pay raise". Union leaders say if they can get the five percent pay raise passed, the strike will end. The bill affects state employees whose salaries are directly set by code; raises for other state employees will be addressed in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget bill, which will be considered in the coming days. And it was very confusing - sort of a long, drawn-out process over many hours.

Democratic Sen. John Unger, who voted for the 5 percent raise, told NPR he is seeing a groundswell of support that he is calling "The West Virginia Spring".

MARTIN: Why did they do that?

The House approved a 5 percent pay hike, but the Senate agreed on 4 percent. That's why the House passed it. Teachers have contributed time and funds before and during the strike, with many going door to door delivering bags with enough food to support families for a week. "Applications will be judged based on the urgency of need, how specific the request is, and how directly the request is connected to the strike", Smith said, asking that those seeking donations ask for a maximum of $500. It was nearly unanimous.

Public schools in West Virginia remained closed today for the eighth instructional day and teachers in Oklahoma might be the next to walk out statewide, officials said.

MARTIN: Can you just give us a sense of the mood there?

She was a public school teacher and her husband was a coal miner before they started a small family business.

"For numbers to appear out of a meeting and show up on our desks saying all of sudden the numbers are there ... as far as I'm concerned it's about this worthless", he said. So I will watch these kids until the cows come home if I have to. It's a tense scene, no question.

All 55 counties announced school closures for Monday.

West Virginia educators have vowed to strike indefinitely after West Virginia's state senate lowered a five percent raise to four percent on March 3. They're at an impasse right now. Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, a member of the special conference committee, which includes three members from each chamber.

One of the moderators of the secret West Virginia Public Employees United page, Jay O'Neal, broached the topic in this way: "It's going to take added pressure to make sure our demands are met".



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