After striking for nine days, teachers in West Virginia will get a five percent salary increase, Gov. Jim Justice announced Tuesday, according to ABC News.
All state employees, not just teachers, will also get the five percent raise.
The teachers’ strike cancelled classes for nine days for the state’s 277,000 students and 35,000 school employees.
“Our kids are going back to the classroom,” Justice said in a press release.
Gov. Justice announced the end of the strike on Twitter:
“We have reached a deal,” Justice tweeted. “I stood rock solid on the 5% Teacher pay raise and delivered. Not only this, but my staff and I made additional cuts which will give all State employees 5% as well. All the focus should have always been on fairness and getting kids back in school.”
According to the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the proposal for the raise was agreed on once Republican Sens. Craig Blair and Ryan Ferns backed down from their opposition to the raises.
How will the raises be funded?
Blair, who is the Senate Finance Committee Chairman, said the raises will come from state spending cuts of $20 million from Medicaid and “general services.”
“These are deep cuts,” Blair said. “This has been the fiscally responsible thing to do, in my opinion, to get us to the point we’re at today.”
West Virginia teachers’ salaries were 48th in the nation, and hadn’t been increased in four years.
Other states following?
West Virginia’s strike has inspired teachers in other states to consider taking action to fight for higher salaries.
Teachers in Oklahoma, which has the 49th-ranked teacher salaries in the nation, have proposed a strike for the first week of April.
“Frustration levels are high, so a strike is not a touchy word anymore,” said Molly Jayne, a teacher in Oklahoma City, to KTUL. “I think we have surpassed the point of conversations, and I don’t think that there’s anything the legislators have provided us recently to give us any sort of hope that they’re going to take actual actions this time.”