The teachers in West Virginia kicked off a multi-state strike wave last winter when they shuttered every school in the state over their consistently low wages, lousy working conditions, and most importantly, their broken Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA), the system that insures every public employee in the state. They won a raise, but the biggest fight, says Rebecca Diamond, a West Virginia teacher and member of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, is still ongoing–the fight to fix and fully fund PEIA. I spoke with Diamond recently at Netroots Nation.
They have had task force meetings and they have gone to all the communities and they have basically gathered from the communities what their main concerns are with PEIA and how it is going to affect them. These panel members are supposed to take it back to the committee and then, they are all supposed to meet and they are supposed to have a decision made before the election – Surprise! – and come up with what they feel like is going to be a solution.
The only solution that I feel like is going to suffice for teachers is if there is a funding source for it. If there is not a funding source for it…which, they have known for the last five years that there was not a funding source for PEIA. They basically just continued to put it on the backburner, because we have not done anything about it. And it is not just teachers, it is every state employee in the State of West Virginia. It is not like they were just hit by a truck and realized that, “How are we going to pay for that PEIA? What are we going to do for it?”
We have given them options. People have given them options to fund PEIA, but nobody wants to take the initiative to make that a funding source for PEIA.
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