The fight for better wages, benefits, and seniority continues for West Virginia public employees, and on Monday, Ohio County school teachers took to the streets to have their voices heard.
These teachers braved the bitter cold temperatures to hold up signs and hand out flyers to local residents saying that they are worth more than 1%. Governor Justice proposed a 1% pay raise for all public employees, but with rising insurance premiums, they say in the end, they will actually take a pay cut if that happens.
Because of these issues, they say a lot of teachers are leaving the Mountain state for neighboring ones like Ohio and Pennsylvania. So they were out on intersections across Ohio County today to let people know that the West Virginia legislature needs to fix these issues in order to keep their teachers.
Jessica Broski-Birch, a Bridge Street Middle School Teacher, said, “I’m asking that everyone makes their voices heard that we want to be competitive in the state of West Virginia to draw highly qualified teachers to the state instead of fleeing to Ohio and Pennsylvania where they pay more.” Katrina Smith, a Middle Creek Elementary School Teacher, said, “Just know that we do this for your children and for our own personal children and that we’re trying to just make West Virginia better for our kids.”
West Virginia currently has over 700 open teacher positions, but these teachers say it will be very difficult to fill them because there isn’t much incentive to stay here. The idea of a work stoppage is still looming but we will be sure to keep you updated with any new details.