By Jean A. Flanagan
Frustration over low wages and uncertain health insurance coverage spread across West Virginia as teachers and service personnel in all 55 counties participated in a work stoppage that closed schools.
In Hardy County, teachers in Moorefield lined Main Street and teachers at East Hardy stood under the Corridor H overpass in Baker to add their voice to the protest.
“It’s not about the money,” said Amanda Hamilton, a 5th-grade teachers at East Hardy Early Middle School. “Teachers don’t teach to get rich. But we’re 48th in the nation in teachers’ salaries and we can’t keep quality teachers with that.”
Hamilton and Stephanie Miller, East Hardy High School Math teacher are co-presidents of the Hardy County Education Association, the union representing teachers.
“First and foremost, it’s about PEIA,” Hamilton said.
The Public Employees Insurance Agency provides health insurance for all state and county employees. Costs for premiums, deductibles and co-pays have been increasing, while coverage has been decreasing. Part of the issue is salaries have not kept pace with the increases in health care costs.