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Thousands of school employees converge on Capitol amid work stoppage


Randi Weingarten (AFT); Christine Campbell (AFT-WV); Donald Thomas


All 55 West Virginia counties closed their public schools Thursday for the first day of what unions have announced, so far, will be a two-day work stoppage by public school employees — the first in state history of this magnitude to include teachers and school service personnel.

Despite Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s statements Wednesday that public school employee work stoppages are “illegal,” and state Schools Superintendent Steve Paine earlier calling them “not lawful,” thousands of people, many in red, a smaller number in blue, began converging around and inside the state Capitol in Charleston on a foggy Thursday morning.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, and House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, didn’t signal by Thursday afternoon that the statewide work stoppage had changed their minds about what to do regarding employee pay raises, Public Employees Insurance Agency health coverage funding and the other, seemingly lesser, issues that are among the protesters’ complaints.