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Teachers in southern West Virginia counties plan walkouts, rally


Charleston Gazette-Mail

American Federation of Teachers of West Virginia President Christine Campbell speaks at a union rally Wednesday, Jan. 24, saying that teachers might strike if the Legislature doesn’t address pay and benefits.
(Gazette-Mail photo by Chris Dorst)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Educators in several Southern West Virginia counties won’t show up to school today. Instead, many will travel to the Capitol in an attempt to send a message to legislators as part of a walkout, according to local union leaders and school officials.

Schools will be closed in at least Logan, Mingo and Wyoming counties for the work stoppage, according to statements from the respective county leaders of the West Virginia Education Association.

“This shows the anger that is out there,” said Dale Lee, president of the WVEA. “It’s not a new anger — it’s built up, for years.”

Teachers in Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties all voted in recent weeks to authorize the walkouts, according to Lee. For other counties throughout the state, several votes are planned in coming days and weeks to authorize similar actions.

Hundreds of teachers could show up at the Capitol to fight for wages, Public Employee Insurance Agency benefits and a halt to bills teachers consider harmful to their education system, Lee said.

“I know they’re still up there trying to work out a deal but it’s still not enough,” said Brandon Wolford, president of Mingo County’s chapter of the WVEA and a K-8 special education teacher at Burch Elementary. “We want higher wages, we want PEIA fully funded, and we want all the bills considering elimination of seniority stopped.”

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