Despite the West Virginia House of Delegates effectively killing a long, sweeping and controversial education reform package, teachers and school employees will be off the job for a second day Wednesday.
Leaders of teacher and service personnel unions cited the slightest of chances that Senate Bill 451 could be revived through a House motion to reconsider action on the measure. On Tuesday, the House adopted a motion to postpone the measure indefinitely, effectively killing the bill on a 53-45 vote.
The lower chamber has until it adjourns tomorrow to reconsider the motion to postpone indefinitely, as per the chamber’s rules.
Senate Bill 451, as amended Monday in the upper chamber, ties pay raises to other components educators and their unions oppose -- including charter schools and education savings accounts.
“All three organizations have had conference calls earlier tonight. We've heard loudly, loudly and clearly from our members,” West Virginia Education Association president Dale Lee said. “We believe that there is still a minute opportunity for something to happen. So with that being said, all 55 counties will be closed again tomorrow.”
Union leaders said the anxiousness over that possibility was articulated to them through their members, who said it was a matter of trust.
“We want to make it perfectly clear that our trust has been somewhat restored in the House because we have heard from the House today in a positive way. We need to let the members of the House of Delegates know that we appreciate their vote today,” American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia president Fred Albert said.
The union announcement of came after a long, loud day at the West Virginia Capitol, with hundreds of educators screaming and chanting from outside the chamber. Hundreds of others had lined the House’s three galleries.
“Whatever the weather may be tomorrow, we expect for you to be back here to make sure that your voice continues to be heard,” Albert said as he announced the second strike day.
Some county school systems began to call off school even before the union announcement, according to the West Virginia Department of Education's website.
With Gov. Jim Justice and Republican leaders of the Legislature stating their commitment to pay raises -- before the midterms and even during this legislative session -- the House lawmakers say they plan to run a “clean” bill calling only for state employee salary increases.
According to House Finance Vice Chairman Vernon Criss, R-Wood, House Bill 2730, will be on the committee’s agenda Wednesday.