Statements by Presidents of AFT-West Virginia and American Federation of Teachers
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
CHARLESTON, W.Va.—Statement by AFT-West Virginia President Fred Albert and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on West Virginia House’s decision not to reconsider the state Senate’s omnibus education bill today, effectively killing it. The House is working on a “clean” bill that just deals with a 5 percent pay raise for all state employees, including teachers and other school employees, and the Senate likely will consider it in the next few days. The teachers have decided to go back to work on Thursday.
AFT-West Virginia President Fred Albert: “This is what the power of educators’ voices looks like. More than 30,000 educators proudly and loudly stood up to state senators who wanted to retaliate for last year’s walkout with so-called reforms that would have hurt public education. We want our kids and their families to have strong, well-funded public schools, not charters and other privatized options that take away funding from public education.
“Educators agreed to return to their classes on Thursday. The House killed the Senate bill, and it should stay dead,” Albert said, noting that in the next few days the Senate is expected to take up Gov. Jim Justice’s bill, which would provide all state employees with a 5 percent pay raise. “We hope and expect that the Senate and House will quickly agree to that and from here on out will understand that the public wants the ‘public’ in public education.”
AFT President Randi Weingarten: “Let West Virginia serve as a lesson to those who feign devotion to our students but do the opposite. We’ve dealt with these shenanigans for a while; but what has changed is that we are willing to engage in direct action as a last resort. That’s why educators converged on the Capitol these last two days, and I was honored to stand with them. Funding public schools is essential for our students to succeed; so is teacher voice. We thank the House of Delegates for seeing that and the governor for reinforcing it with his veto threat.
“Now, as we return to school, it’s time for both chambers and the governor to make good on the pre-election promise to provide a wage increase and the supports our kids need. That is what our kids, teachers and support staff need and deserve.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.