Gov. Jim Justice needs to learn how to read a room.
Not two weeks after the shooting at a Florida high school, West Virginia Republican Gov. Jim Justice made a flippant joke to striking teachers about getting shot.
Talking Points Memo reports that Justice opened his remarks at Spring Mills High School by saying, “Okay everybody, nobody’s going to shoot at me or anything, are you?”
“Okay, you don’t have to promise,” he added.
This remark would have been in poor taste even in the best of circumstances. Saying it as America continues to reel from the tragedy of the Parkland school shooting is absolutely horrifying.
Furthermore, Justice’s comments betray a total lack of concern or empathy for the reasons behind the statewide strike.
West Virginia’s public schools have been shut down for three days over stagnant wages and deteriorating benefits.
“2014 was the last pay raise that public employees and especially teachers and service personnel have gotten,” Eric Brand, a local West Virginia union representative, told Shareblue Media in an exclusive interview. “They weren’t putting the money in to match our premiums … some of them are going to skyrocket 40 to 70 percent.”
Indeed, compensation has gotten so bad in West Virginia public schools that some teachers are now taking out second jobs.
Teachers deserve better than to be paid peanuts for their hard work.
But in West Virginia, their concerns are wholly dismissed. And their governor thinks it’s funny to joke about gun violence days after a school shooting.