Teachers walk out across West Virginia over pay, benefits

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Teachers walk out across West Virginia over pay, benefits
Ryan Quinn, Charleston Gazette-Mail

eachers across West Virginia walked off the job Thursday, demonstrating at the state Capitol and at some schools in frustration over what they say is state leaders' refusal to pay them and fund their benefits adequately.

Late Wednesday, Gov. Jim Justice announced that he had signed a bill, passed by the state Senate earlier in the day, that would give teachers a 2 percent raise as of July 1, and a 1 percent raise each of the following two years, as well as raises for other public employees.

Teachers say those raises would be swallowed up by premium hikes and benefit cuts from the Public Employee Insurance Agency. At the governor's urging, PEIA board members froze those cuts for a year, but teachers say a long-term solution is needed.

More than 1,000 demonstrators were in line Thursday morning at the Capitol's West Wing entrance, waiting to express their displeasure with state lawmakers. As of 2:30 p.m., more than 4,500 people had entered the Capitol through the two public access points, according to the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

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