FRANKFORT, Ky. — Chants of “West Virginia, West Virginia, West Virginia!” are being heard at the Kentucky State Capitol, according to a reporter with the Louisville Courier Journal.
“I’ve seen dozens of signs that say ‘Don’t make us go West Virginia on you’,” Mandy McLaren, an education reporter, said on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Thousands of Kentucky teachers and school service employees walked off the job Monday over pension concerns. Rallies at the Capitol in Frankfort continued Tuesday.
“This is not dying down,” McLaren said.
McLaren said teachers have been outraged over comments made by Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin regarding pension reform.
“During the whole pension reform debate, he himself was on a radio show and called teachers ‘selfish’ and ‘short-sighted’ for protesting changes to pension reform,” she said.
The general feeling from Kentucky teachers is that they were inspired by West Virginia teachers, McLaren said.
Teachers and school service workers were on strike for nine days in West Virginia to fight for better pay and benefits. The strike ended last month when Governor Jim Justice signed a 5 percent pay raise bill and created a task force that will work to find a permanent funding solution for the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
“The Kentucky teachers are very aware that right next door teachers had success there getting pay raise after they walked off the job,” McLaren said. “I think it just gets back to this whole feeling of being fed up and realizing that when the teachers do unite and work together that they can accomplish things.”
McLaren said, much like West Virginia, teachers have filled up “every single nook and cranny” inside the state Capitol to make their voices heard.