John Raby, The Associated Press
How We Got Here: More Empty Promises?
After several tense days of the teacher's strike in West Virginia, members of the union leadership gathered with Gov. Jim Justice and other government leaders to discuss a potential end to the walkout.
The demand? A five percent increase for school teachers. It sounded like, in principle, Gov. Justice had agreed. All that remained was agreement by the otherwise implacable legislature.
Press Conference https://t.co/yCVyn1jDAT— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) February 27, 2018
Would the promises hold membership so as to end the strike? The teachers would have to decide.
One curious wrinkle: Gov. Justice admitted a potential monetary fix to the striker concerns, a fund collected by a natural gas collection tax, was a sticking point in the state legislature. Justice made his fortune in the coal industry, and still owns several mines.
This policy injection led to consternation among state Republicans. Per Newsweek:
“The Governor has decided to interject this unrelated dispute into the current discussion regarding teacher pay and benefits and the Public Employees Insurance Agency in an apparent attempt to convince our teachers and public employees to support such a plan. I believe this course is headed for disaster,” said West Virginia House Speaker Tim Armstead, a Republican.
West Virginia Teachers To End Strike After Reaching Deal With Governor
By Dave Mistich
National Public Radio
February 27, 2018
The work stoppage that has closed public schools in West Virginia will end Thursday, leaders of teacher and service personnel unions said after meeting with the governor.
The news came at a press conference on Tuesday, where Gov. Jim Justice announced a 3 percent pay increase for all state employees this year, with an additional 2 percent hike for those who work in education, including teachers and service personnel. However, it remains unknown whether leaders of the House and Senate will go along with the deal.
"I've talked to the president of the Senate and speaker of the House, and I'm very hopeful," Justice said. "I think in all fairness to them they should speak. Let's just give them time."
The governor left the press conference early to coach a high school girls basketball team in a game.
Leaders of the American Federation of Teacher-West Virginia, the West Virginia Education Association and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association said Wednesday will serve as a "cool down" period before teachers and service personnel return to the classroom.
They expressed optimism that the deal with the governor would become reality, but kept open the possibility of another strike.
"We reserve the right — we may have to call our people back out again," WVEA President Dale Lee said, noting that the Legislature would still need to pass the proposed raises to satisfy demands.