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Justice says teachers need to go back to work

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice said Friday the work stoppage that teachers and school service personnel have been participating in for the past two days needs to stop.

Gov. Jim Justice

“Our teachers need to go back to the classroom, period,” Justice said during an interview from his office at the state capitol Friday afternoon with WSAZ-TV. “Our kids need to be able to be in school. We need to quit disrupting our families.”

In Justice’s words it’s “absolutely silly” to believe a permanent fix to PEIA is going to be done in a few days.

“It’s a matter of trust. I’ll get it done,” Justice said. “There is an absolute commitment from me and I’m sure from the House and Senate to find a way.”

Justice said the pay raise bill that he signed into law Wednesday night that will provide a two percent raise for teachers in the first year along with the 16-month freeze of PEIA will cost the state $76 million in next year’s budget.

“What we need to do is focus on the fact that if this state is going to work in a prudent way it can’t do any more than that today,” Justice said.

In a question posed by WSAZ-TV anchor Amanda Barren, Justice said he hadn’t met with teacher group leaders Dale Lee and Christine Campbell for about two-and-a-half weeks but members of his administration had been in touch.

Justice did meet with five teachers from Kanawha County in his office Friday. He said going out of the office and meeting with the throng of teachers gathered at the capitol for the second straight day would probably be “fruitless.”

Justice added he believes there’s a “lot of misinformation and grandstanding” taking place.

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