CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Quoting teachers from across the state of West Virginia that they are “55 Strong”, WV Sen. Richard Ojeda on Tuesday said West Virginia teachers had forever changed the state of West Virginia with their “strength, bravery and resolve”. “Our teachers and service personnel are heroes.”

“Our teachers and service personnel have been saying that they are 55 strong for weeks now,” Ojeda said in response to the passage of a 5% pay raise for teachers, school service personnel, and State Troopers. “This is what strength and unity look like,” Ojeda added. “Our teachers and service personnel have been in their statehouse every day fighting for their voices to be heard by their own representatives.” Public employees were first presented with a 1% raise coupled with a number of anti-education bills, soaring insurance costs and aggressive changes to their insurance plans that sparked their anger and led to a 55 county statewide strike.

“It appears that the people do still have the power in the legislative system. They refused to accept anything less than 5%. They believed they were worthy of a living wage and wanted the world to know that they were not going to take being placed last on the list of priorities any longer. That is not reflective of what many say is the age of dying unions but it instead shows that the strength of the union is only as strong as it’s members and in West Virginia, we are 55 strong. It’s a great day to call this beautiful state home.”