Teachers in Hancock County discuss possible walkout

Teachers in Hancock County are discussing a potential walkout to fight for fair wages.

Teachers in Hancock County are discussing a potential walkout to fight for fair wages.

The West Virginia Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers from Hancock County met at Weirton Elementary School to discuss the possibility of a walkout in the near future.

They gathered Thursday to get correct and up-to-date information on what’s currently happening in legislature.

"Back in 1990, we were 40th on the pay scale,” said Hancock County Education Association President Melanie Donofe. “After the strike, we went to 30th on the pay scale. We have now fallen back to 48th on the pay scale.”

An old sign pulled out the closet form 28 years ago still fits the issue today.

Teachers said the 1 percent raise is simply not enough.

"Which would be about $400 a year,” Donofe said. “Divide that by 24, then take out your insurance, get your taxes… you might be able to get a happy meal.”

That would be per paycheck.

"I don’t know any other profession that bases an insurance premium on their salary,” Donofe said.

Special education teacher Leah Ritter has been teaching for three years at Hancock County Schools

"The current situation is not very good,” Ritter said. “I mean, I don’t feel like any of us actually get paid for what we do here at the school. I know some of us do more than what were supposed to do.”

Ritter wasn’t around for the 1990 strike that lasted 11 days, but is ready to do whatever it takes, along with her colleges, to get pay she sees to be more fair.

"It’s just gotten worse and worse. My outlook on things is not a very good,” Ritter said. "I would hate to have to go 11 days without pay, but if that’s what we have to do to get a fair chance, then bring it on.”

A strike, however, isn’t on the menu for now.

"We are not thinking of a strike at this point,” Donofe said. “That would be our very last resort. We will try and exhaust all other options before we do that.”

Superintendent Tim Woodward is supporting his staff.

"Superintendents can also help us by supporting us, and telling us that they agree with us, and shutting down either the state or the county,” Donofe said.

Teachers will vote Friday on whether or not to authorize Donofe to speak about a walkout with legislators.

"We need to stick together,” Donofe said.

If the authorization vote is in favor of Donofe speaking, that will take place when she travels to Flatwoods, West Virginia Sunday, Feb. 11.

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