Senate nixes vote on teachers' raises

West Virginia teacher's work stoppage will continue through Monday

Teachers and other public school workers in the U.S. state of West Virginia have rejected a pay and conditions deal created to get them back to work after a strike that began on Thursday of last week.

Members of the Senate didn't notice the switch and the Senate ended up voting to give the teachers a 5% raise, Prezioso and Mike Woelfel said.

Jacob Staggers, a sixth-grade English teacher at South Middle School in Morgantown, W.Va., holds up a sign outside the state Senate chambers at the Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., March 1, 2018.

"I'm concerned that the Senate will play games, and not pass the pay raise for the teachers, service personnel and state troopers". He said he would appoint a task force to look into stabilizing the state employees' health program.

"We had some teachers who were very upset with us" for accepting the deal, Wood said.

Protesting teachers have argued that education in West Virginia - where more than 700 classrooms lack fully certified full-time teachers - needs to be a higher priority among politicians.

Workers are demanding that the state curb their rising health insurance costs and give them significant pay hikes after years of stagnant wages.

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee said the vote broke the agreement promised by the governor and passed by the House.

The House has adjourned until Monday morning at 11:00 a.m.

Democratic lawmakers said their Republican counterparts should approve the deal the governor negotiated with union leaders for a 5 percent raise. While everyone is focused on the mistakes, my focus is exclusively on getting our children back to school. Locally, Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley voted against the amended bill. Sen.

If the House rejects the Senate's 4-percent version, the bill will go to a conference committee. The Senate's Republicans did that, carrying the 20-13 vote.

A Senate finance committee vote earlier in the day drew books from an overflow crowd of teachers and supporters watched a livestream from the Senate committee room. The status of PEIA was a major reason for the strike, according to educators. Then-Gov. Joe Manchin, a Democrat who's now one of the state's two senators in Washington, had urged legislators to pursue the tax cuts in 2006, arguing that West Virginia needed to slash taxes on corporations in order to be competitive with other states.

The bill also covers a pay raise for state police. And the trust factor, right now, is kind of slim. Republican state senators apparently were not onboard with the plan that the governor announced.

"People want to go back to school", he said.

"We are absolutely bound by our duty to evaluate that with a fine-tooth comb", he said. They also could have helped fill the funding shortfall in the Public Employee Insurance Agency, or PEIA, which many workers list as their top concern.

"It doesn't force them to make any tough decisions".

"I will not be a party to pitting our state employees against our teachers", Justice stated. According to the National Education Association, the median salary for teachers within the Mountain State ranks 48th in the nation (including the District of Columbia as a separate entity), with only three other states trailing it. Local pickets have gone up across the state as well. Dave Mistich reports on how the news was delivered and reaction from lawmakers.

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