Teachers voting on possible walkout after changes to PEIA and salaries

PINEVILLE, W. Va. (WVNS)-- Wyoming County teachers will vote on a one day walkout after several new bills are proposed in the West Virginia Legislature. 

Close to 200 public school employees packed into a small room at the Career and Technical Center in Pineville Wednesday night to discuss their options. 

"I understand that you're scared and concerned about what may happen if we say the "S" word," said Tina Adams, a teacher at Baileysville Elementary and also the West Virginia Education Union Representative,

They're following several bills moving through the legislature including the proposed one percent pay raise, changes to the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency and a senate bill 8 that will change seniority in public schools. 

Lisa Workman is a teacher at Baileysville Elementary and Middle School, and she says the changes to PEIA are unacceptable. Starting with a mandatory GO365 program that tracks lifestyles of its participants. 

"It's going to track our sleep, exercise and if we go to gyms.When I took the questionnaire it asked me questions that are unfair and fat shames you. So if you're not in their range. Then you could pay higher premiums than someone with the same dependents as you."

59 News was asked to leave at the end of the meeting so teachers, custodians, and bus drivers could  meet behind closed doors to discuss the possibility of a strike or a walkout. They say all they want is to be heard.

Carla Stewart, a teacher at Oceana Middle is worried she could lose her job to someone who has no experience, because they start at a lower salary. 

 "The seniority bill is a concern for me. I worry the security won't be there."

Adams said she has worked for 15 years and this year she makes $30 less per paycheck, and that will continue to diminish with the rising PEIA premiums. To make up for the loss wages she has to work several jobs. 

"I do after school tutoring in the past I've been teaching alternative school just doing little things."

Teachers here say they want to be competitive with surrounding states. According to the National Education Association in 2017 West Virginia was ranked 48th nationwide in teacher salary. 

Adams tells 59 News all schools will use a secret ballot to vote on who will participate in the one day walkout. 

The West Virginia Education Association and American Federation of Teachers organizations were also at the meeting.  


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