FAIRMONT, W.Va. . — Legislators continued discussion Friday on Senate Bill 267, which specifies that over four years, public education and service workers will receive a 4 percent pay raise with a 2 percent raise the first year.
Throughout these discussions, teachers and service workers across the 55 counties of West Virginia were part of a work stoppage during which they picketed outside their schools advocating for their rights.
As schools were closed during the stoppage, lawmakers at the Capitol could hear their cries and weighed in on the Public Employees Insurance Agency, the proposed pay raises and seniority, each of which are problematic for the picketers. These lawmakers commented on the impact unsatisfied teachers could have on the state.
“They want to send a message of ‘enough is enough’ and for most of us, we get it and we think they’re right,” Sen. Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, said. “We’re not attracting new teachers, and we’re not allowing the teachers that we have the courtesy of paying them what they’re worth.”
Delegate Linda Longstreth, D-Marion, emphasized that these professional employees are needed in the state. She said they were hoping to give state and public employees more of a raise than what was signed by the Gov. Jim Justice, “but it takes a majority to pass any legislation.”
“The Governor froze PEIA benefits for 18 months, so hopefully we will find the extra resources during that time to fix it,” she stated Thursday evening. “We hope they all keep the faith and continue to do the jobs they love.” …
Sen. Bob Beach, D-Monongalia, Marion, also commented on the freeze.
“The freeze to me is just stalling it, and the problem is still going to exist when they come back,” Beach said. “The PEIA in my opinion supercedes the pay raises at this point because it’s just running amok and eroding paychecks. I’ve heard stories of folks just barely getting by.” …
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