BECKLEY, W.Va. — While a lot of Raleigh County teachers and service personnel went to Charleston to rally at the state Capitol Thursday, some stayed behind to raise awareness in their communities.
In downtown Beckley, a group of parents and children gathered at Shoemaker Square to show their support. Raleigh County mother Stephanie Finley said she believed it was the least she could do to help.
She and two children with her were holding a large sign that read “teachers rule”.
“Not only are they there educating our children, they’re doing their best to protect with the trends going around right now. I just felt like as a parent, I need to come out and support all that they’re doing for our children.”
Some drivers honked and cheered while driving by the group of nearly 40. Meanwhile, a group of teachers and service personnel formed a group along Beckley’s bustling Harper Road.
School personnel employee Michael Robinson said Gov. Jim Justice’s signing of a new bill giving teachers and service personnel a 2 percent raise next year isn’t enough.
“I really don’t. You have to consider that our state is ranked 48th in the nation and we deserve better. We’re down low in too many categories and we want to come up. This is where we have to start at. Because our kids are that important.”
Robinson stood alongside teachers and their children and added they plan on doing the same for as many days as the walkout lasts. He said he has found encouragement from his coworkers and believes unity is part of the solution.
“We work together everyday. Out here now we’re trying to just fight for an honest cause. The bills don’t stop coming. We all have those obligations and we want to be able to take care of it.”
Shannon Taylor, another service employee, said she is fighting for all state workers. She hopes the State of West Virginia and PEIA can reach a better deal. Until then, she’s happy seeing the large number of state workers and area residents driving by and expressing their support.
‘It’s absolutely wonderful. It’s good to see that we can all stand together for not only teachers and service personnel but as I said the rest of the state workers. You don’t think about it but even as far as CPS (Child Protective Services) they’re all public employees and they’re all getting a raw deal here. Enough’s enough.”