West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed a bill March 6, 2018, that gives a 5% pay increase to all state employees, including teachers and school staff.
The new law comes after a nine-day teachers’ strike. Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers, told CNN this bill is a “huge breakthrough” for school employees. She also argued that for education professionals to do their best work and have school programs that help children thrive, they need a more fair, livable wage.
The strike started Feb. 22, 2018, when nearly 20,000 teachers walked out of schools. As a result, public schools in 55 counties across the state were closed.
Furthermore, educators demanded higher wages and better benefits, specifically the employee health insurance program, Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA). Until now, West Virginia’s wages for educators ranked 48th in the nation.
Also, the governor has set up a task force to address the state health insurance program for educators March 13, 2018.
According to CNN, Governor Justice addressed educators at the state capitol, “It took a lot of pulling for everyone to get there, but we’re there.”