Teacher strike continues in all 55 counties

MORGANTOWN – Thursday’s wet weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of Monongalia County’s teachers and service personnel as they continued to picket one week after a work stoppage over benefits and other legislative issues began.
“Everything seems pretty positive,” Kristie Cumberledge, teacher at Skyview Elementary, said.
The public has shown “loads and loads,” of support, she said. Even after a week there are still honks, waves and other signs of support, including food donations.
Justin Schrout stopped by the Skyview picket, near the Westover bridge and dropped off a bag of apples and pears for the picketers.
“You know, I grew up here. I went to Westwood. I went to MHS,” he said. “I’m just trying to give back and support my community.
He said  teachers standing up and fighting for what they want is great. Teachers have gone too long without a raise, devaluing their labor, he said.
Schrout also had a message for lawmakers.
“Support our teachers or we’ll vote you out,” he said.
Cumberledge said it looks like everyone is in this for the long haul, though she said everyone misses their students.
She said the primary issue is securing funding for a permanent fix to the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
“That’s numero uno,” she said. “That is the biggest myth that that pay raise was number one.”
She also said  all state employees deserve the 5 percent raise proposed by HB4145, not just teachers.
Chris Root, a Morgantown High School teacher, said he had not expected the strike to last this long, but because of previous experience with the governor, House and Senate, teachers aren’t willing to stop until something is in writing and official.
Students were also standing on  picket lines to show their support.
Mac McMillen, 16, and Aaron Alvarez, 17, both  Morgantown High School basketball players, were at a picket near Sheetz on Don Knotts Boulevard.
“We’re here to support our teachers,” McMillen said. “We think they deserve better and they’re not getting it right now.
Alvarez, whose mom teaches at MHS, said  the work stoppage is a  lesson for students.
“It’s a great thing for kids to get involved in to know they have a voice.”