The insurgent movement of teachers and other school employees in West Virginia continued Friday, with more than 30,000 public education workers staying off the job and forcing the closure of schools throughout the state's 55 counties.
Across the rotunda, Senate President Mitch Carmichael, who has remained skeptical of the front-loaded pay increases announced in the deal made by Justice and union leaders, said the process appears to be moving too quickly.
Teachers walked out last Thursday after Justice signed legislation to give teachers and state police a 2 percent raise.
O' Neill also says that she feels this strike can be the catalyst for increased teacher pay not only in West Virginia, but nationwide. According to NBC News, the average salary for a West Virginia teacher is $45,000, making it the 48th-lowest teacher's salary in the nation.
It's accompanied by a revised tax revenue estimate from Gov. Jim Justice, who says that will pay for next year's raises.
Those men, women and children are teachers, educators and students protesting teacher pay within the state of West Virginia.
Teachers Thursday seem just as determined on Day 6 of the strike, even as their unions asked them to return to the classroom.
"Rather than provide thoughtful analysis and review of such an enormous investment of taxpayer dollars, we're being pressured to forego all the normal processes that we would utilize to review a $60 million investment to the taxpayers of West Virginia", Carmichael said. Also are strike are members of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, which includes support staff.
There are several possibilities that will be looked at for the revenue we need to solve the PEIA issues once and for all. But teachers, other workers and their supporters rallied outside the state capitol building chanting, "We're not going to take it" and "We got sold out!"
On Wednesday, the House of Delegates passed it. At the end of the day, if it blows up that's on you.' And I'd have said, 'That's fine.
"I don't think this is a hard case from a legal perspective", he said.
The bill passed 77-22 on Friday follows Senate approval.
Ohio County Schools Assistant Superintendent Rick Jones said teachers and school service workers meeting this week indicated they were anxious to go back, and he expects that will happen soon.
The Public Employees Insurance Agency, a state entity that administers health care programs for public workers, including teachers, had agreed to freeze health insurance premiums and rates for the next fiscal year for state workers.
"We need a permanent fix for PEIA insurance and an equal raise for all state employees", she said. "We want to see a firm commitment before we go back". "I truly believe we will be back to school Monday", he said. "So I went home and I thought a lot about it". Because if we tweak it now - I just got done speaking with the Speaker of the House - they don't want to tweak anything. And they didn't want to do that.