A week-long West Virginia teachers strike came to a conclusion on Tuesday after the state agreed to give teachers a five percent raise.
Around 277,000 students were out of the classroom for nine class days as a result of a state-wide teachers strike that came to a conclusion on Tuesday. The teachers went on strike after highlighting that they were amongst the lowest paid public school teachers in the country. Leaders of the West Virginia teacher’s union said that they wouldn’t return to the classroom until they received a five percent raise.
Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers, claimed that the agreement is a huge victory for “labor solidarity.”
“You have a story here, a modern-day story, of labor solidarity on an issue that is irrefutable,” she said. “That for teachers to stay in our profession, for bus drivers and support staff to stay and do this work, we need a livable wage, and we need the conditions in schools that we can help kids thrive.”
Despite the agreement, students may now be forced to make up the nine classroom days during the summer. “I wish it wouldn’t have come to this and that I was still in school, but I want the teachers to get the wages that they deserve, so I’m all right with it,” one West Virginia high schooler told CNN.
The strike, which began on February 20, has inspired teacher unions in other states to consider their own strikes. Teachers in Oklahoma are currently considering engaging in a similar strike sometime next month.
West Virginia Senate Majority leader Ryan Ferns said that the raise is an ideal compromise for both the state and the teachers. “With this agreement today to reduce spending in state government, in order to give every single dollar available to our public employees, we’ve achieved the goal of being fiscally responsible while also getting a pay raise that will help our teachers get back in the classroom and our students back to school,” Ferns said.