State schools close as teachers protest for better pay, health insurance

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Every public school classroom in West Virginia is empty Thursday as teachers and service personnel begin a two-day work stoppage.

Courtesy: WSAZ

Dozens of teachers lined up along the road near Riverside High School holding signs saying "Enough is Enough" as they protest for better pay and health insurance plans.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten joined the group as they staged a walk out of the school.

The group plans to spend some time at the school before heading to the state Capitol in Charleston for a much larger rally with teachers across West Virginia.

Teachers were also out in front of other schools across West Virginia. All the groups plan to meet at Laidley Field in Charleston to head over to the Capitol together.

Late Wednesday, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey issued a statement saying walkouts could lead to injunctions.

"The impending work stoppage is unlawful. State law and court rulings give specific parties avenues to remedy such illegal conduct, including the option to seek an injunction to end an unlawful strike," Morrisey said in his statement. “This illegal work stoppage affects hundreds of thousands of students and families across our state. Our office is prepared to support any relevant state agency or board with legal remedies they may choose to pursue to uphold the law. We also stand ready to assist and support any county board of education or county superintendent as they enforce the law."

Also, Wednesday Gov. Jim Justice signed the pay raise bill into law. Teachers, school service personnel, state police, and all other state employees will get a 2 percent pay raise in the upcoming fiscal year.

After that state police and school service personnel will get a 1 percent raise next year, while teachers will get a 1 percent raise in each of the following two years.

In a release, Governor Justice said "We need to keep our kids and teachers in the classroom. We certainly recognize our teachers are underpaid and this is a step in the right direction to addressing their pay."