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West Virginia teachers, governor agree on deal to end strike

By Ray Downs
West Virginia teachers, governor agree on deal to end strike
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice agreed to give public school teachers a 5 percent raise on Tuesday, ending a statewide strike after four days. Photo courtesy Gov. Jim Justice/Flickr

Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The West Virginia public school teachers' strike has come to an end, Gov. Jim Justice announced Tuesday.

The strike ended after four days when the state agreed to give teachers a 5 percent raise of $2,020.

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"My commitment to education has been consistent from Day 1," Justice said on Twitter.

Teachers were expected to return to work on Thursday after a one-day "cooling off" period, the West Virginia Education Association said on Facebook.

Other state employees also got a 3 percent raise, Justice said.

Christine Campbell, the president of West Virginia's American Federation of Teachers chapter, praised the deal, but said more negotiations will be needed going forward.

"This has been a huge step in the right direction," Campbell said in a statement. "And this is not the end. This is the beginning."

West Virginia teachers staged a walkout last week to protest low wages after Justice signed a bill that would have given them a 2 percent raise -- $808 -- next school year, followed by 1 percent raises of $404 in 2020 and 2021.

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But teachers said those raises weren't enough to keep up with the inflation rate and healthcare costs. In addition, they said their wages were far lower than in other states.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks West Virginia as one of the lowest-paying states for public school teachers, with an average annual salary of $45,240.

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