Richard A. Fowler
WASHINGTON—Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on the recent decision by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice to increase teacher and school service personnel salaries, end the attacks on seniority and paycheck deduction, and launch a task force to improve the state’s public health insurance program:
“West Virginia’s teachers and school service personnel stood strong and stood together for basic dignity for themselves and their students. They showed what is possible when working people come together, united in their unions and joined by their communities, to fight for what educators, students and schools need to thrive. It’s been awe-inspiring seeing thousands swarm the state Capitol and stand out on the picket lines fighting for a better life and a better West Virginia.
“Last night’s proposal is a starting point in terms of treating West Virginia’s teachers and school service personnel with the respect and dignity they deserve. It provides a new pathway forward on healthcare, with a short-term freeze in premiums and a long-term commitment to get it right for public employees, educators and school service personnel.
“But this moment is about more than last night’s agreement, as important as that is. Through this strike, 55 counties strong, West Virginia’s teachers and school service personnel put legislators on notice that business as usual is over—it’s time for real investment in West Virginia’s public schools and in the professionals who teach in and work in West Virginia’s schools. The AFT stands with the educators and school staff in West Virginia today, and we will continue to stand with you as you keep fighting for your jobs, your students and your schools. We know what is possible in this state when we work together, unions and local and state officials, toward what is best for communities and schools. That is the path the governor and the Legislature should continue to take.”