Now that the walkout is over, teachers are excited to go back to their classrooms.
Thousands of educators from every county in the state spent nine days outside of the classroom and on the picket the line. These nine days were spent in uncertainty over whether the five percent pay raise agreement would ever be honored.
However, lawmakers in both the House and the Senate unanimously passed the bill. Rachel Copley, a Kanawha County teacher, said this was a victory in her eyes.
“We were kind of down that we had to go through this process, but we are so grateful that they came to an agreement that not only benefits us but all state workers. We are just crossing our fingers to get that PEIA straightened out as well,” Copley said.
Christine Campbell, President of AFT-WV, said she also feels a sense of relief and triumph following the passing of the bill.
“I think our members are feeling really good about the fact that they stood up for our students, stood up for their schools and their communities, saying this has to be the most important thing this session,” Campbell explained.
Although PEIA is still hanging in the balance, Campbell added that creating the taskforce and receiving input from different people will be the best way to find a permanent solution to funding.
“I know it doesn’t feel like an immediate fix, but the moratorium gives us the time to do that even into the legislative session, and gives the opportunity to really change what is going on with our healthcare long term,” Campbell explained.