West Virginia teachers strike to close schools for another day

West Virginia teacher strike

CHARLESTON, W.V. -- Defiant and determined, West Virginia's teachers were out in force again on Monday. For the third school day, thousands of teachers gathered outside the capitol to speak with one voice: low pay coupled with rising health care costs are making their lives unbearable.

Jake Fertig said he might have to declare bankruptcy because his teacher's income won't cover his rising medical premiums.

"The issue has been, I qualify for food stamps," Fertig said. "And a lot of our members do, and that was while working two jobs."

West Virginia's teachers earn an average of $45,000, well below the national average of $58,000. The striking teachers were 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.

But Gov. Jim Justice was jeered when he said the state can't afford anything more.  

Lindsey Dolan, a mother of two, is concerned that low pay means that the best teachers go elsewhere.

"We need to have qualified teachers. They need to be well compensated and they need to be qualified to teach our children," Dolan said.

The teachers were warned the strike was illegal but that didn't deter them. The state could fine them, fire them, ban them from teaching altogether or put them in jail.