West Virginia governor: Tentative deal reached to end statewide teachers' strike

West Virginia governor: Tentative deal reached to end statewide teachers' strike
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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced an end to a nine-day statewide teachers' strike on Tuesday after reaching a deal to raise pay for teachers and state employees.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Justice and state legislators reached a deal  to provide a 5 percent pay raise for all teachers and state employees after Republicans in the state Senate backed down from their opposition to salary increases.

"We have reached a deal. I stood rock solid on the 5% Teacher pay raise and delivered. Not only this, but my staff and I made additional cuts which will give all State employees 5% as well. All the focus should have always been on fairness and getting the kids back in school," Justice tweeted.

The state will also establish a commission to deal with rising health insurance premiums in the state's Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), which provides health care to teachers and other state employees.

"Our kids are going back to the classroom," the governor added in a news release to the Gazette-Mail.

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Teachers across the state have been on strike for nine days over concerns about low pay and spiraling insurance costs. Teachers' salaries in the state were ranked as the 48th lowest in the nation.

The successful effort by teachers' unions in West Virginia has inspired teachers in other states to organize statewide strikes, including 25,000 people in Oklahoma who announced similar plans on Monday.