Oakland teachers union threatens to strike over current COVID safety measures

ByRyan Curry KGO logo
Friday, January 21, 2022
COVID concerns: Oakland teachers union threatens to strike
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The Oakland Education Association could possibly go on strike if they don't get new safety measures from the school district.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Oakland Education Association (OEA) could possibly go on strike if they don't get new safety measures from the school district. OEA sent a notice to the district on Wednesday saying it will give the district 48 hours to reach an agreement with the union, or they will vote for a strike.

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"We want weekly testing for students and staff at all site," said Keith Brown, President of the OEA. "We want a written agreement for the best possible masks. We want a credentialed person in each building to help with our issues with staffing shortages."

The union's Safety Bargaining Board plans to meet with OUSD Thursday night and possibly Friday morning to reach an agreement. He says he remains hopeful an agreement can be reached.

"Our schools must be as safe as possible so students can get the best education as possible," Brown said.

VIDEO: East Bay parents, teachers upset over handling of omicron surge but in-person learning continues

Parents and teachers in the West Contra Costa School District are fed up with the district's handling of the omicron surge.

Parents in the district want a strike to be avoided.

"It is hard enough to try and juggle school for my children and work for me," said Reginald Mosley, a single father of three children in elementary school.

"I don't think it is fair that teachers, educators who want to go on strike and not work harder with the district. I don't think it is fair the district is not being more flexible," he said.

OUSD's statement said:

"The District and OEA reached and MOU on safety measures for this school year this past July which allowed for a successful reopening of schools to traditional in person learning this school year- despite unprecedented challenges. While the MOU between the Parties covers ventilation, PPE/safety supplies, COVID Testing, Contact Tracing, and COVID safety protocols, the District is always willing to discuss new impacts as they are identified by OEA- the landscape is ever changing. Meetings are scheduled. And despite the challenges we are all facing, we are very hopeful that he District and OEA will yet again find a way to reach an agreement. We are better together."

RELATED: Oakland School for the Arts issues emergency COVID closure for one week

Teachers also want a new agreement with the district. Linh Linh Trinh, a science teacher at MetWest High School doesn't think learning in person is safe right now. She says some of her students are not even in class.

"Currently my students are on strike, so I only have about four out of 20 in one classes," she said. "There is not a lot we can do."