CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Latest on a statewide teachers walkout in West Virginia over pay and benefits (all times local):
Gov. Jim Justice tells striking teachers and their supporters at a Morgantown high school they should return to work Tuesday, that it will take him seven to 10 days to appoint a task force to address their issues.
He also says they should push for increasing the severance tax on natural gas as a permanent funding source for West Virginia’s public workers’ insurance program.
Justice was occasionally heckled from some in a crowd of more than 150. He says teachers are underpaid and have been underappreciated but he doesn’t currently see state financial data to support more than the 2 percent pay raise he signed into law for them next year.
Teachers across West Virginia will continue a walkout over pay and benefits for a fourth day.
American Federation of Teachers West Virginia chapter President Christine Campbell announced at a rally attended by thousands Monday at the state Capitol in Charleston that the statewide strike will go on Tuesday.
Campbell said union officials want to bring together the leaders of the House of Delegates, the state Senate and Gov. Jim Justice at one meeting to discuss the issues. But that hasn’t happened.
She says there have been separate talks with various leaders but not with the governor, who spoke at town-hall style meetings Monday in Wheeling, Martinsburg and Morgantown.
Until everyone comes together at once, Campbell says, “we’re not going back” to the classroom.
A teacher’s strike is keeping public schools closed for a third day in West Virginia.
The state Department of Education’s website shows all school districts are closed in all 55 counties Monday morning.
Gov. Jim Justice has signed teacher pay raises of 2 percent next year and 1 percent the following two years. But West Virginia’s teacher pay ranks 48th in the nation, and teachers say the increases are too stingy, especially as health care costs more.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said thousands of teachers are returning to the state Capitol in Charleston Monday to raise pressure on the Legislature and governor.