Press Release

AFT on West Virginia Legislature’s Attack on Educators

Lawmakers Shamefully Retaliate Against Constituents Who Backed Walkouts, Voted for Public Education

For Release: 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Contact:

Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603
acrook@aft.org

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and AFT-West Virginia President Fred Albert issued the following statements after the West Virginia Legislature attempted to ram through a clawback of teacher rights and protections won during last year’s historic walkouts. This afternoon, Gov. Jim Justice said he would veto the bill.

Weingarten said: “This cynical proposal is a blatant attack on West Virginia families: The Legislature is shamefully retaliating against educators and the communities that supported them during last spring’s walkouts.

“West Virginians made clear their support for addressing the state’s chronic underfunding of public education. Trying to quash those who fought for schools and our kids’ futures by fast-tracking a bill to punish those educators is a betrayal of West Virginians’ commitment to their kids and communities.

“This bill—which no West Virginia teacher, school service worker, parent, principal or superintendent was ever consulted on—would tie teacher pay raises and funding for the state employees’ healthcare system to poison pills like increased class sizes, privatization and stripping educators of voice.

“We applaud Gov. Justice on his declaration today that he would veto it and insist on that which he and state Sen. Mitch Carmichael promised before the November election: a bill that fulfills the goal of a 5 percent wage increase and adequate health funding.

“Last year, educators said they would ‘remember in November’—and we will again be organizing to thwart those lawmakers who defy the will of their own constituents by supporting such a retaliatory bill.”

Albert said: “A year ago, the public marched on Charleston demanding funding and support for public schools and their educators. They were not asking for the state to divert scarce public dollars for failed schemes like charter schools and other privatized schooling or making class sizes larger. The Legislature should have learned its lesson a year ago.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.