- Members of the Oakland Education Association, a union representing nearly 3,000 teachers and staff working in the 34,000-student Oakland Unified School District in California, began to strike Thursday following months of contract negotiations with the district.
- While Oakland schools remained open, the district said the instructional day would not consist of “school as usual.” Principals, office staff and support staff were expected to supervise students during the strike, and the district still planned to serve breakfast and lunch in schools.
- The union is picketing over salaries and working conditions. Other issues discussed in negotiations have covered class sizes, special education student caseloads, substitute teachers, newcomer students, bilingual education and more.
“While I deeply support our teachers and other educators districtwide and would love to provide them with all of the things they’ve asked for at the table, we must prioritize our resources to ensure every student in OUSD has a qualified teacher,” said OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell a week ahead of the anticipated strike, in a video message. “This means we must compensate our educators.”
The district is proposing teacher raises ranging between 13% to 22.3%.
The district’s compensation offer would provide above-average salary rates for teachers in the region, Johnson-Trammell said. The superintendent added that there may be situations that call for a strike, but now is not the time to do so, especially as high school graduation and testing nears.
Both presidents of the California Teacher Association and the National Education Association said they stand in solidarity with the Oakland union members on Thursday, in a video shared on Twitter.
OUSD has failed to come to the table in good faith. Educators will be on the picket line tomorrow, on strike for our students & for Oakland schools. Join us on the picket line. We will continue to negotiate in good faith & hope the district does the same. #Unite4OaklandStudents pic.twitter.com/88wQs5Phx9— Oakland Education Association (@OaklandEA) May 4, 2023
The union efforts in Oakland come just over a month after a three-day strike in Los Angeles Unified School District by Service Employees International Union Local 99, who were joined by members of United Teachers Los Angeles. The strike led to the cancellation of classes in the district, with the striking unions representing around 65,000 district employees.
In April, the SEIU Local 99 union announced it reached a contract deal with LAUSD that included retroactive pay increases, expanded healthcare benefits, and a $3 million investment in a professional development fund. A few weeks later, the district also reached a deal with United Teachers Los Angeles agreeing to class size reductions, increased compensation, special education caseload caps and green space commitments.