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More W.Va. school employees shut down systems with Capitol rally

The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Capitol police stand guard in front of the House of Delegates chamber Friday at protesting teachers shout chants to the Legislature. Photo by Kenny Kemp of The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A second wave of public school employee work stoppages hit the state Friday, this time shutting down seven public school systems, up from three counties two weeks ago.

Southern West Virginia counties weren’t the only ones with walkouts this time. Brooke County, the second-most northern county, and Wetzel County, at the base of the Northern Panhandle, joined in on Friday.

Cabell County, which has the state’s third-highest student enrollment, also took part. Also part of Friday’s work stoppage were Clay, Lincoln, Mason and Wayne counties.

Ahead lies the possibility of a statewide school employees strike.

Friday was reminiscent of the walkouts and rally on Feb. 2, when hundreds of school employees flooded the state Capitol, their song of “Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, hey, hey, goodbye!” audible in the House of Delegates chamber as Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, was giving a rare speech from the House floor.

“We will strike! We will strike!” came chants Friday from among another crowd of hundreds of red-shirted school employees who gathered in the Statehouse, outside the House chamber.

County union leaders said workers planned to arrive at the Capitol around 9 a.m. After 10 a.m., people carrying umbrellas were still lined up in the rain outside the two public entryways, waiting to get through metal detectors.

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