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Cabell teachers join wider West Virginia protest over PEIA, raises


The Herald-Dispatch

School employees and supporters picket outside the Cabell County Board of Education before a meeting on Tuesday in Huntington.
(Herald-Dispatch photo by Sholten Singer)

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — County by county, the demands of teachers and school employees continue to harmonize under two basic demands: more affordable public insurance and a pay raise to support it.

Gov. Jim Justice, speaking at a town hall meeting Tuesday in Logan, proposed freezing changes to the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) until at least next year until a permanent solution can be found. The moratorium, which would maintain an 80/20 coverage, would abate proposed price increases to premiums, which teachers argue would outweigh the governor’s proposed 1 percent pay increase for all public employees.

“Let’s try to work on a solution that’s a long-term solution to fix PEIA forever, and we can’t do that in a week,” Justice said. “There’s no way to do it until I know that we’ve got real money coming from somewhere or legislation passed that we’re going to increase gas severance or something like that.”

But not a commuter on 5th Avenue left Huntington on Tuesday night without knowing Cabell County was singing the same statewide protest song Tuesday night. Hundreds gathered outside the Cabell County Schools central office in unified disdain toward legislative inaction to reforming PEIA.

“We expect teachers to stay upset until PEIA is either fully funded and fixed to where they can afford it next year and where there’s a pay raise high enough to pay for the PEIA increases,” said Brandon Tinney, staff representative for the American Federation of Teachers.

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