West Virginia teacher strike to extend to Monday
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Teachers in West Virginia voted Friday to continue a statewide strike on Monday after a walkout this week closed every public school in the state on Thursday and Friday.

The American Federation of Teachers in West Virginia (AFT-WV) tweeted Friday that the group's president Christine Campbell said "the members have spoken," bringing the strike into its second week.

The walkout followed a move from West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) to sign into law a 2 percent pay increase for teachers that would take effect in July, followed by additional 1 percent increases over the next two years.

Teachers' union officials say the state needs to do more to make health care and other benefits match the state's economic situation.

“I don't believe that any of our school employees are really buying what's being said, especially when there are personal attacks and all these things from different directions," Campbell said in a union newsletter this week.

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The battle between teachers and state lawmakers first erupted earlier in February, when the union lost a push for state lawmakers to increase the proposed raise package from 2 percent to 3 percent.

Thousands of demonstrators descended on the capital this week following the walkout, demanding a better deal for educators in the state and chanting slogans such as "fed up, fired up!”

Justice responded to the protests in an interview with local TV station WSAZ, telling a reporter that teachers must return to schools and wait for the government to find a fix for West Virginia's Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA), which has seen premiums frozen for 17 months.

"I don't think it's prudent at all to talk to a group of thousands of people. We just won't get anywhere," Justice said.

"Our teachers need to go back to the classroom. Period. Our kids need to be in school. We need to stop disrupting our families. It's silly to think there will be a permanent fix to PEIA in the next few days. There is a commitment, an absolute commitment from me, the House and the Senate to find a way to fix PEIA."