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Health care cuts drive West Virginia teachers' strike

The state capitol building in Charleston, West Virginia.
The State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia. Photo: Michael S. Williamson / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Public school teachers across West Virginia have been on strike for a week.

Why it matters: Kids have been out of school as teachers fight for raises to their stagnant salaries. But the state's teachers have been just as anxious over major proposed cuts to their health care benefits — a trend that spans companies and industries.

Driving the news: Republican Gov. Jim Justice had agreed to give teachers a 5% salary raise, but rising copays, higher premiums and other health benefits changes were still up in the air. Local newspapers now report state legislators are considering putting the pay raise toward the public employee health insurance fund.

The big picture: Wages and health benefits are linked — as the cost of health care has climbed, increases in compensation often have gone toward those benefits instead of pay raises.

Key quote: "In West Virginia, we know they weren't known for having high salaries, but they were known for good health insurance," a high school history teacher told HuffPost. "That used to be something to attract people. Now that's eroding."

Go deeper: The erosion of worker compensation.