2018 Gazette-Mail West Virginians of the Year: Teachers and school workers

South Charleston High teacher Emily Comer says union members telling their leaders what to in this year’s strike was “really cool.” (Gazette-Mail photo by Craig Hudson)

By RYAN QUINN

Charleston Gazette-Mail

South Charleston High teacher Emily Comer says union members telling their leaders what to in this year’s strike was “really cool.”
(Gazette-Mail photo by Craig Hudson)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Early this year, West Virginia’s public school employees — despite legal threats and union leaders’ calls, later recanted, to return to work — held their first statewide strike. It was also the first such walkout to include teachers and service personnel, like bus drivers and cooks.

Those school workers are the 2018 Gazette-Mail West Virginians of the Year, but recent events have shown that the gains they won remain in doubt.

Gov. Jim Justice’s Public Employees Insurance Agency Task Force, created as part of a deal to end the strike, announced on Dec. 10 that it won’t recommend a long-term way to fund the state health insurance program at its current benefit levels before the next legislative session.

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Previous Gazette-Mail West Virginians of the Year

Sam Brunett, a local union official in Monongalia County, thought he was going back to work as an art teacher on the night of Feb. 28. His fellow workers didn’t agree.
(Courtesy photo)

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