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Hundreds of teachers hold walkout, protest in West Virginia

Hundreds of teachers hold walkout, protest in West Virginia
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Hundreds of West Virginia teachers held walk-outs and protested at the state Capitol on Friday over low wages and proposed rules that eliminate teacher seniority. 

Schools in Logan, Mingo and Wyoming counties closed Friday over the teacher shortage, as many teachers were expected to protest in Charleston, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. Several more counties are expected to follow suit. 

In solidarity with the protests, other teachers in Kanawha and Berkeley counties staged a "walk-in," standing outside of their schools with signs supporting public education for about one hour before starting the workday. 

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The West Virginia state Senate is expected to take a vote on Gov. Jim Justice's (R) proposed 1 percent pay raise to teachers in a Friday floor session, following a failed attempt in the chamber on Thursday to bump the raise to 3 percent.

Teachers at the Capitol also protested a proposed move by the Public Employee Insurance Agency to do away with teacher seniority, which would give flexibility to schools in handling layoffs, and the agency's cuts to teacher insurance. 

 “I know they’re still up there trying to work out a deal, but it’s still not enough,” said Brandon Wolford, the president of Mingo County's chapter of the state education association. “We want higher wages, we want [Public Employees Insurance Agency] fully funded, and we want all the bills considering elimination of seniority stopped.”

A middle school teacher from Charleston told Metro News that depending on the legislature's actions, counties could vote individually for a potential teacher's strike.