State-wide teacher strike not "out of the realm of possibilities"

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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) -- Dozens of teachers voiced their opinion on pensions in front of the Perry County Kentucky Education Association (KEA) office before a meeting to discuss the issue Monday.

“We go into this job because we love what we do, and our pay is not great, but the benefit was promised to us,” said Regina Brown, a KEA board member.

Brown was not alone. Many others came out to voice their opinions.

“When you get into this job, you're definitely not going into it for the pay, but the benefits after are what you look for," said Juanita Spangler, a Whitesburg Middle School teacher.

Officials with the KEA said the meeting is to help people understand Senate Bill 1 (SB1), which proposes changes to the state pension plan.

“We've been asked for years to do more and more and more with less and less and less,” said KEA Vice President Eddie Campbell. "Senate Bill 1 cuts benefits for current employees, it cuts benefits for future employees, and it cuts benefits for current employees who have already served their community, and that's just not good for kids."

Campbell said as a vote creeps closer for SB1, he is still weary. He said the bill does restore funding to certain areas, like $127 million to school transportation, but he believes there is still work to be done.

“Those funds, if they don't come from the state, are going to be placed on the backs of local school districts,” said Campbell. “There are pieces of the budget that we still need to make sure that we're funding.”

Campbell said they are considering all their options as a vote approaches, saying a state-wide strike is not off the table.

“We're having our members talk to their legislators through emails through phone calls. We're going to make sure that we're continuing on this pension issue to the very end, and nothing's out of the realm of possibilities,” said Campbell.

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