The Latest: Teachers say they’ll stay out on strike
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Latest on a bill to give West Virginia teachers a pay raise to end a strike (all times local):
The three unions representing West Virginia teachers and service personnel say they will stay out on strike following the state Senate’s vote to cut the 5 percent raises they negotiated with Gov. Jim Justice.
In a joint statement, the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, West Virginia Education Association and the School Service Personnel Association say Senate President Mitch Carmichael and its leadership team has left them with no choice.
They say all public schools in West Virginia will be closed again Monday and will “remain closed until the Senate honors the agreement that was made.”
Schools have been closed and classes canceled for seven days so far.
West Virginia’s Senate has voted to give striking teachers and other workers a 4 percent raise next year. That is 1 percentage point less than the 5 percent negotiated by Gov. Jim Justice with union leaders to end a strike that has shuttered classrooms statewide for seven days.
Senate majority Republicans backed the amendment 19-15 on Saturday evening. Senators say the pay increase is overdue, but by granting the 4 percent raise they can avoid a tax increase.
Democrats say their Republican counterparts should abide by the deal the governor negotiated with the union for a 5 percent raise.
American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia President told Christine Campbell told WCHS-TV the cut was “a deal breaker.”
The House approved the 5 percent raise. The bills will have to be reconciled.
A state Senate committee in West Virginia has voted to reduce a proposed pay raise for teachers who have walked off their jobs to protest their salaries.
News outlets report that the Senate Finance Committee voted Saturday to lower the pay bump by 1 percentage point to 4 percent. The amendment was approved on a 9-8 committee vote.
The amended bill now heads to the full Senate, which immediately began debating it.
The bill originally included a 5 percent raise for teachers, school service personnel and West Virginia State Police. That version passed the House on a 98-1 vote.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee says the Senate committee broke an agreement promised by the governor.
The teachers’ strike across West Virginia is rolling into its second weekend with the state Senate planning to meet Saturday.
Senators declined to take a vote Friday on whether the teachers will get the 5 percent pay raise negotiated by Gov. Jim Justice and union leaders.
Senate Republicans, who control the chamber, have repeatedly emphasized spending restraint while saying the teachers and West Virginia’s other public workers are all underpaid but funds are limited.
Hundreds of teachers and supporters, including students, rallied at the Capitol on Friday, the seventh day they’ve shuttered classrooms.
Teachers are protesting pay that’s among the lowest in the nation, rising health care costs and a previously approved 2 percent raise for next year after four years without any increase.