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Thousands of teachers rally at W.Va. Capitol

(WSAZ)
Published: Feb. 16, 2018 at 6:34 PM EST
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Teachers on Friday showed up in force at the Capitol, at least 2,000 strong.

State senators are considering the House's bill which, would give a 5 percent increase to teachers, school service personnel and troopers over the next four years.

The teachers were loud enough to be heard even inside House chambers.

"It's time,” said April Wallace, a third-grade teacher at Kellogg Elementary in Wayne County. “It's time for teachers and public employees to stand up."

Wallace was joined by her daughter Abby Adams, thanks to school being cancelled in Wayne County.

"I gave her the opportunity to stay home and she said, 'No, I'm in this fight with you.'"

It’s a fight as teachers feel the squeeze over wages, insurance or PEIA hikes and possible changes to seniority.

"We're fed up and fired up," said Kellie Wood, a seventh-grade teacher at Milton Middle School. "If we have to stand out here and yell it into the chamber, that's how were going to get it in there."

Wood carpooled with several others from the school.

This may only be a warmup.

Thousands more are expected Saturday.

Wood says she’ll be back.

"I will be here every day I need to until we do get our difference made."

Both teachers are confident that voices loud and united will be heard.

"I do think it makes a difference," Wood said.

"I hope that it makes a difference. I wouldn't be here today if I didn't," added Wallace.

Meanwhile, Senate leadership on both sides of the aisle tell WSAZ it's great for teachers to show up.

But Majority Leader Ryan Ferns (R) said lawmakers will not respond to union leadership who threatens a strike. He also said a work stoppage is not the best course of action because kids and their parents are hurt by the actions.

"It's their choice to have their voices heard,” Ferns said. “I don't think it's impacting the outcome of us attempting to give teachers and public employees everything that we possibly can without bankrupting our state."

But Minority Leader Roman Prezioso (D) said their presence does make a difference.

"It makes a difference. I hope we put this thing on the fast track and get it done before next week comes and get 6,000 teachers.”

After calling a recess for committee meetings Friday afternoon, the full Senate went back into session at 6 p.m.