Governor Jim Justice and teacher unions have struck a deal to end the teacher strike.
“We need our kids back in school and we need our teachers back in school- they want to be back in school,” Governor Jim Justice said in a press conference.
But to get that done, Governor Justice says he realized he needed to invest in teachers. So the Governor agreed to a three percent raise for all public employees and five percent raise for teachers.
“I hope to goodness that the powers to be, whether it be in the Senate that were trying to do the prudent thing and the House that was trying to do the prudent thing will look and say this in an investment in West Virginia,” Governor Justice added.
Justice’s chief of staff says thanks to the president’s tax plan, Governor’s road bond and improving GDP- revenue has been up these last two months. So now the state is expected to bring in $58 million more dollars this year. That money will go towards the raises.
“They don’t want to be first in the country in pay, they know where we live in West Virginia. They want to be out of 48th. And this isn’t the end this is the beginning,” AFT-WV President Christine Campbell said.
The beginning in long term investment in education, and part of that is PEIA. The Governor plans to form a special task force to tackle the funding issue.
“The commitment for the task force to come up with long range solutions to the PEIA health problems. We will begin that work immediately at the end of the session,” WVEA President Dale added.
A special session could be called to put the task force recommendations in place, but unions say today is a step in the right direction.
“We were very united in this when all 55 counties for the first time ever had a statewide work action or strike or whatever you want to call it. It’s their voices standing together that made this discussion start to happen, it’s what made the discussion happen today and it’s what made this action,” Lee explained.
Union leaders say the pay raise bill is expected to be introduced tomorrow. But if for some reason the House and Senate don’t follow through on the Governor’s promise- unions say they’ll be back to strike.
We will continue to update this story with more information as it becomes available.