The fight is on in the West Virginia legislature over pay raises for school teachers and all other state employees. While the Governor wants a one-percent increase for all state workers this year; he wants to extent that for teacher to five years. But workers say their PEIA health premiums and deductibles are rising even more, and the net result is actually a pay cut.
“I think the issues are the lack of salary increases for years, and it’s not just teachers. It’s service personnel,it’s public employees who haven’t seen a pay raise in 12, 13 years,” said Christine Campbell, President, WV American Fed. of Teachers.
Many teachers are talking about protest walkouts or actual strikes. West Virginia now has over 700 teacher vacancies, because it has the lowest starting pay in the six-state region.
“So their pay is artificially low now because they wanted good benefits. Now their benefits are being taken away from them. We need to keep our promise to our public employees, our teachers; not just the teachers but all public employees,” said Del. Scott Brewer, (D) Mason.
Thursday, an effort in the senate to raise teacher pay by 3-percent failed. Lawmakers are asking for patience as they seek a solution.
“And I’d like to ask the teachers. Please give us a chance. Give us a chance to work this out. We recognize what’s going on. We’re working on it. There are good conversations going on,” said Del. Marshall Wilson, (R) Berkeley,
The Senate votes Friday, on the original one-percent pay hike for all state workers.
“The last time there was a state wide teachers strike in West Virginia was 1990. And those here at the Capitol who remember that, say they don’t want it to happen again,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.