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West Virginia strike ends as teachers secure 5 percent wage increase

West Virginia’s legislature unanimously voted Tuesday to raise teachers’ wages, bringing an end to a walkout that has kept public schools across the state closed for almost two weeks, The Associated Press reports. “There’s no question I’m going to sign it,” said Gov. Jim Justice (R). “I believe in your purpose, I believe in you, and I love our kids.”

The strikes began after Justice signed legislation last month giving teachers a 2 percent pay increase this year, followed by 1 percent increases over the following two years. Teachers said the action was inadequate, and additionally cited the rising cost of the state’s health insurance system as being one of the driving forces behind the strike.

School is expected to be back in session Wednesday. Justice has also promised to assemble a task force to address the the state’s health insurance system by March 13.

The West Virginia strike has inspired teachers across the nation, with calls for similar action growing in Oklahoma. “You have a story here, a modern-day story, of labor solidarity on an issue that is irrefutable,” the president of American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, told CNN of West Virginia’s example. “That for teachers to stay in our profession, for bus drivers and support staff to stay and do this work, we need a livable wage, and we need the conditions in schools that we can help kids thrive.”