PARKERSBURG W.Va, (WTAP) - UPDATE: 02/10/19
Union leaders say West Virginia teachers and other public employees have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a statewide work action if needed against complex education legislation making its way through the Legislature.
Leaders of the West Virginia Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers' West Virginia chapter and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association announced the vote Saturday in Flatwoods. It did not specify when or what type of action would be taken.
The Senate passed the bill Monday. The House education committee made significant changes before approving its version Friday and sending it to the House finance committee. Both versions would give teachers 5 percent pay raises. Teachers oppose some other provisions in the bill.
West Virginia teachers won 5 percent pay raises following a nine-day strike last year.
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Members of the community, educators, and state delegates gathered at Jackson Middle School on Saturday Morning to discuss the controversial education reform legislation, Senate Bill 451.
“We had a community forum. We had members of the community; a lot of our educators came out, school board members came out and were able to ask questions. We also had three members of the House of Delegates with us; John Kelly, Tom Azinger, and Bill Anderson…I think we all have a better understanding of what is going on. We’re encouraged by what we see and what we’ve heard from our house members as the changes to Senate Bill 451 and we’re hopeful that they continue to move in this positive direction,” says Bruce Boston, President of the Wood County Education Association.
Changes have already been made to the legislation.
“They’ve taken out the non-severability clause. They took out the retaliatory language on work stoppages and students not being able to practice during a work stoppage, not being able to play games or basketball during a work stoppage. They took that out of the bill. They reduced the charter school language in the bill, and they’ve taken out the education savings accounts from the bill,” explains Boston.
“I think the House Education Committee has improved the bill as it came from the Senate,” notes Bill Anderson, House of Delegates 8th District.
On February 5th and 6th, the Wood County Education Association held a vote regarding the authorization of a work stoppage.
“We did do an authorization vote in Wood County Schools. The majority of professional employees voted to authorize a work stoppage if that becomes necessary. We hope- that is the absolute last thing we want to do,” says Boston.
“If parents and community members have questions, I would encourage them to talk to some of the educators in their school. Talk to some people and really see what’s going on because I think there is still the misconception that this is about our pay raise. This is not about our pay raise. We are actually fighting against our pay raise because it’s going to hurt education so much,” urges Shannon Ferrebee, a Jackson Middle School teacher and Wood County School parent.
Two public hearings will be held in the House Chamber on Monday to discuss Senate Bill 451.
“I think this is a work in progress. And I will be interested in the input from the public hearing and I believe this public hearing may present other alternatives, other ideas that might be considered to be incorporated in the bill,” encourages Anderson.
Wood County Schools employees will vote Tuesday and Wednesday on a possible statewide work stoppage related to Senate Bill 451, an education reform bill, if the bill passes third senate reading on Monday.
Senate Bill 451 touches on a variety of education issues including pay raises for teachers and letting teachers bank personal days for retirement credit.
Educators and service personnel have the option to participate in a vote on whether or not to call a statewide work stoppage... Based on what happens with the bill.
The Wood County Education Association will hold a vote on Tuesday and Wednesday this week if the bill passes its third reading on Monday.
The WCEA president said the bill will shortchange Wood County and West Virginia public school students.
Those in favor of the bill argue funding semi-private schools with public money will increase overall education quality in the state.
“We are going to do an authorization vote in Wood County this week. All the employees will be voting on Tuesday and Wednesday to give our leadership authorization to call a strike if they deem it necessary…We are hopeful that we’re not going to get to that point,” says Bruce Boston, WCEA President.
If the bill is passed Monday, there will be a community forum held at Jackson Middle School at 9:30 a.m. next Saturday for the public to come ask questions about the proposed legislation.
ORIGINAL STORY: 2/01/2019
West Virginia education unions say their members will vote next week on a possible statewide work stoppage related to Senate Bill 451, an education reform bill.
A coalition of unions - West Virginia Education Association, American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association - joined forces Friday to announce their plans in Charleston.
All educators and service personnel in the state will have the option to participate in a vote on whether or not to authorize the union leaders to call a statewide work stoppage, should circumstances surrounding the omnibus bill "merit action."
Employees in all 55 counties can vote.
The vote will take place sometime next week.
The exact day and time varies by county.
Senate Bill 451 is broad-ranging legislation.
The omnibus bill touches on a variety of education issues, starting with pay raises for teachers.
The bill would also let teachers bank personal days for retirement credit.
It would give counties greater latitude in paying some teachers more for in-demand expertise.
Much of the back-and-forth in the Legislature boils down to a vision of whether pumping public dollars into semi-private schools will improve education in West Virginia or drain school resources that are stretched thin already.
In a rare move earlier this week, the Senate majority voted to bypass the Senate Finance Committee and instead let the whole membership consider the education bill. It's referred to as the Committee of the Whole.
Acting as a committee, the Senate advanced the bill on its first reading Thursday, but the legislation must go through three full readings in the Senate before moving to the House.
Lawmakers are back in Senate chambers for a second reading Friday. It's unclear how long that process will take. As of 1 p.m. Friday, senators had
WVEA President Dale Lee said the groups hope the state House steps up and "does the right thing."
“We have educators here from across the state every day watching closely," said Lee.
Once the votes are collected, the coalition will announce its next move.