West Virginia teachers walkout over low pay enters fourth day

Teachers across West Virginia have now refused to go to school for four consecutive days in protest of low state-set teacher salaries, marking the first teachers strike in the state since 1990.

Public schools in all of the state's 55 counties have stayed closed as more than 20,000 teachers and 10,000 school staff have protested teacher salaries in the state, which remain among the lowest in the nation, according to USA Today

Teachers are focusing the protest on salaries that were ranked 48th in the U.S. in 2016, as out-of-pocket costs for health care continue to rise.

Gov. Jim Justice (R) recently approved the first pay raise for public educators in three years, bumping salaries by 2 percent next year and 1 percent on the following two years, but says the state cannot afford to raise the wages more than that. 

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The state also approved a costly one-year freeze on a public finance board from escalating teacher health-care premiums, costing the state an estimated $29 million.

With less than two weeks left in West Virginia's 60-day legislative session, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response House-passed spending bill would block Pebble Mine construction The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - At loggerheads, Congress, White House to let jobless payout lapse MORE (D), a former state governor, has recommended the legislature enter a special session to resolve the issue. 

“You’re going to the end of the session right now. Right now trying to fix something as momentous and monumental as this is is going to be hard to do in the last two weeks," Manchin said while at the state Capitol in Charleston last week, where teachers were protesting, according to WV MetroNews. 

The state's attorney general said at the start of protests last week that the walkouts were unlawful, and the governor may seek a court injunction to get the teachers back into schools, CBS News reports.