On Tuesday evening, Jim Justice, the Republican governor of West Virginia, offered striking teachers in his state a 5% salary increase so that teachers across the state will stop their four-day-long strike, WHSV reported Tuesday evening.
Other West Virginia state employees will receive a 3% wage increase over the next year, he said. Justice’s proposal has reportedly mollified the teachers, who have agreed to return to work on Thursday.
Wednesday will serve as what he called a “cooling off period,” since some school districts already announced closures for the day.
The governor called the raises “an investment in West Virginia.”
All 680 public schools across the state’s 55 counties have been shut down for four days after the educators, who make some of the lowest salaries in the country compared to counterparts in other states, demanded higher wages and better benefits.
While 5% is a mere hair’s width higher than a standard, annual cost of living wage adjustment, it’s actually a huge victory for the teachers. Justice initially offered them a pitiful 1% salary increase, which would amount to about $400 annually. And just three weeks ago, the West Virginia State Senate rejected a measure to increase teachers’ wages by 3% annually. So it’s clear that union power and strike power did what it’s supposed to do. When you see that, you understand why conservatives are pushing so hard to destroy unions.