Washington, DC — American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statements after the West Virginia Legislature attempted to ram through a clawback of teacher rights and protections won during last year’s historic walkouts. Gov Jim Justice said he would veto the bill.
Weingarten said: “This cynical proposal is a blatant attack on West Virginia families: The Legislature is shamefully retaliating against educators and the communities that supported them during last spring’s walkouts.
“West Virginians made clear their support for addressing the state’s chronic underfunding of public education. Trying to quash those who fought for schools and our kids’ futures by fast-tracking a bill to punish those educators is a betrayal of West Virginians’ commitment to their kids and communities.
“This bill—which no West Virginia teacher, school service worker, parent, principal or superintendent was ever consulted on—would tie teacher pay raises and funding for the state employees’ healthcare system to poison pills like increased class sizes, privatization and stripping educators of voice.
“We applaud Gov. Justice on his declaration today that he would veto it and insist on that which he and state Sen. Mitch Carmichael promised before the November election: a bill that fulfills the goal of a 5 percent wage increase and adequate health funding. Last year, educators said they would ‘remember in Novseeember’—and we will again be organizing to thwart those lawmakers who defy the will of their own constituents by supporting such a retaliatory bill.”