West Virginia teachers strike set to end after governor announces deal
West Virginia teachers will return to school Thursday after going on strike last week, Gov. Jim Justice said Tuesday. Under Justice's proposed deal, all state employees will receive a 3 percent raise, with employees working in education receiving an additional 2 percent raise, CBS affiliate WOWK reports.
Justice made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday after emerging from a meeting with union leaders for teachers in all 55 counties.
Tuesday marked the fourth day of the statewide strike that had closed schools in all 55 counties. Justice said they would take Wednesday as an additional "cooling off" day, since some schools had already canceled class.
The governor's chief of staff Mike Hall says the latest pay raise proposal is based on revised revenue estimates of $58 million based on economic forecasts. The pay increases would have to be approved by the Legislature.
The teachers are represented by the American Federation of Teachers and the West Virginia Education Association. Also on strike are members of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, which includes support staff.
Striking teachers were initially offered a 2 percent pay increase this year -- the first one in three years -- followed by a 1 percent increase over the next two years. Justice had signed across-the-board teacher pay raises of $808 next year and $404 the following two years. Justice was jeered when he said the state can't afford anything more, CBS News' Don Dahler reported.
Teachers had said the increases weren't enough, especially as health care costs rise.
West Virginia's average pay of $45,701 puts it near the bottom of the country. Educators in the state say they have no choice but to consider working in neighboring states that pay significantly more, including Maryland, where the average salary is $66,961, and Ohio, where teachers are paid an average of $57,000.
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