Oakland teachers hold rally, walkout over contract talks

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ByAmy Hollyfield KGO logo
Friday, January 18, 2019
Oakland teachers hold walkout to protest contract negotiations
Oakland teachers held a rally and marched to the school district offices to demand a 12 percent pay raise over three years and smaller classes.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland teachers protested outside of Oakland Tech High School Friday morning and then marched down Broadway to the school district offices to demand a 12 percent pay raise over three years and smaller classes.

The district is currently offering a five percent raise over three years.

"We've been waiting a long time, a year and a half. It shows us we are not a priority, the kids are not a priority. So it means we can't be quiet anymore we want to stand up and make sure kids have what they need and that we have what we need to stay in this town, said Oakland Tech teacher Katie Bailey.

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The district brought in substitute teachers but they don't have enough to cover all the teacher absences so some schools will have a modified schedule today.

"If most of the teachers are gone we won't be able to do some of the classes. We won't have algebra, English, the way they have been done. We may have bigger classes, classes in the library, classes in auditorium, on the field playing soccer, things like that," said Oakland Unified School District spokesperson John Sasaki.

Some students joined teachers in the protest. Sasaki said if their parents called in their absence, it would be excused.

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"I really think it shows it's not just the teachers who are upset. The students are noticing too and they're picking up on the issues and want to help their teachers. We are a unified front together," said Oakland Tech student Sophia Cossett.

This walkout is happening while teachers in Los Angeles are on strike. Some teachers and parents in Oakland said today they hope what is happening in LA will influence officials here and convince them to give teachers what they want.

"Regardless of what is going on in LA, we don't want to see a strike here because we know how disruptive that would be to our families and students. We want to head this off. We want to make sure our teachers feel valued and appreciated and we want to make sure they get a contract that they are happy with," Sasaki said.

A fact-finding committee will make a recommendation on these negotiations January 31. If the two sides are still at an impasse, the teachers union could vote on whether to strike next month.

Take a look at the latest stories and videos about the Oakland teacher strike.