All West Virginia schools are closed Monday, March 5 as the statewide teacher strike continues.
This comes after a show down at the capitol on Saturday, where the Senate refused to pass the House’s 5% teacher pay raise.
The West Virginia teacher strike is preparing to enter day eight after the state Senate backed out of deal Governor Jim Justice cut with union leaders.
“I’ve stuck from the beginning not really liking the work stoppage, but seeing what’s happening I can understand why it had to get to that because they’re turning it around on us – and that’s not right,” said Weirton Elementary School counselor Patty Schultz.
The House passed a five percent raise for teachers, service personnel and state police on Wednesday, but Saturday night the Senate voted to knock that down to a four percent raise and use the savings to give all state workers a four percent raise as well.
“There has been a stream of messages that I received that say what about me? And it’s the other public employees that haven’t had a raise in 12 years,” Republican Senator Greg Boso said in a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Saturday.
Now teachers said they feel like they’re being pitted against other state workers.
“They’re making it look like it’s all about money and it’s not. They’re trying to make it look like to our other public employees that we’re rejecting them- that’s not what this is,” Shultz added.
The bill has been sent to conference, meaning three senators and three delegates will get together Monday and try to come up with a compromise. Union leaders say if they can get the five percent pay raise passed, the strike will end.
“If that happens then we believe that our people will go back to into school. But as long as this amendment is out here with the 4% we will stay united and we will be out indefinitely,” WVEA President Dale Lee said.
Some lawmakers said thanks to the Governor’s new revenue projections, there could be enough money to give all state workers a five percent raise, but those other raises would have to come separately in the budget bill.