Public school teachers across West Virginia staged walk-out protests on Friday to demand higher wages and better health benefits, with at least three counties closing schools over the teacher shortage as hundreds of teachers showed up at the state Capitol in protest.
According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, teachers in other countries are also planning votes on whether to take similar action in the future. At a number of other schools, teachers showed solidarity today by standing outside for an hour before school started and by wearing purple.
In front of a gallery full of teachers, West Virginia’s Senate approved a 1% pay raise today. Only a few days earlier, an amendment proposing a 3% pay raise failed. West Virginia ranks among the bottom ten states for teacher pay, and according to U.S. News, a 1% pay raise would amount to just $400 per year. Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers of West Virginia, told the Gazette-Mail that 1% “won’t even let [teachers] break even— 1% is not enough.”
Teachers are also fighting for better health benefits and a proposed move by the Public Employee Insurance Agency to eliminate teacher seniority.