Oakland teachers impressed with turn out on first day of strike

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland teachers are feeling very confident about their negotiations with the school district now that they have seen the support they have on the picket line.

"It's overwhelming. I feel joyful and happy and excited for what we are going to win for our students," said kindergarten teacher Olivia Udovic.

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Parents and students joined teachers on the picket line. Udovic said their presence brought tears to her eyes. Parents say they hope administrators are paying attention.

"We want the strike to end as soon as possible. So we want to put pressure on the district to see that parents teachers and students are all united together," said parent Patrick Vaughn.

U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell also joined the strike today, picketing in front of Manzanita school.

Udovic thinks this support will translate into a short strike.

"I think it should be a matter of days. The support we have today is going to be a real strong message to the district. When they see the very low attendance numbers at schools across Oakland and the high number of people on the picket like they are going to have to listen a lot harder," she said.

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But the district spokesperson says they don't have the money.

"We have a financial situation here that is very difficult for the district to make any more movement than we have right now," said district spokesperson John Sasaki.
The district is making 22 million dollars in cuts next year and has offered a 7 percent raise with a one and a half percent bonus over four years. School district officials say it is now the union's move.

"We look forward to hearing a counterproposal from them. We haven't heard any counter proposal since May so we hope they have something for us tomorrow when we meet again," said Sasaki.

RELATED: Teachers union, Oakland Unified fail to reach agreement to avoid strike

In response, a union representative would only say that the picket lines today are strong and they will be back at the negotiating table tomorrow morning.

The district does not have district-wide attendance records for today. But at Manzanita School, where Udovic works, 14 kids out of the 430 students showed up for class today.

"We want to support them so they can have a living wage to stay here. At our school we have had a lot of turnover with our teachers and it is hard to create a strong school culture when teachers are turning over. So we want to be out here to support them," said Vaughn, who brought his third grader to the picket line.

See more stories, information, and videos about the Oakland Teacher Strike.
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