Here's why Oakland teachers are going on unauthorized 'Wildcat' strike over contract negotiations

Amanda del Castillo Image
Friday, March 24, 2023
Oakland teachers go on unauthorized strike over contract negotiations
Teachers from at least 14 OUSD middle and high schools stopped work on Friday as the district has repeatedly canceled negotiation sessions.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Teachers with the Oakland Unified School District planned a "Wildcat strike" Friday over ongoing contract negotiations.

A "Wildcat strike" is one that is unauthorized by the union, in this instance the Oakland Education Association.

A few dozen Oakland Unified School District teachers gathered at Skyline High around 7:30 a.m.. It marked one of three school sites where educators picketed, protesting what they say is bad-faith bargaining by the district.

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"The most recent one, they offered a 3.5% raise, as a counter to our 22.97% request," history teacher Jordan Blumberg-Long said. "Which would bring us to the median teacher pay in Alameda County."

"We have the lowest pay rate in the area, and you know living here is very expensive." art teacher Ruben Guzman told ABC7 News.

Teachers from at least 14 OUSD middle and high schools stopped work on Friday. They said among a list of escalating frustrations, the district has repeatedly canceled negotiation sessions.

There were some tense moments during the unauthorized strike. The teachers' passion was mirrored by some parents who approached the closed gates to access campus.

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"Let me by. I got kids in here that are disabled," one woman directed. "Move out my way. Move out my way!"

OUSD said it's committed to reaching an agreement before the end of the school year in support of serving Oakland students. The teachers we spoke with say they are not confident.

"Four years ago, we went on strike for better schools and we were able to get more nurses, more support staff, better pay for teachers," Blumberg-Long said. "We are back in that same position today, where we need to pay our teachers more to keep our teachers in Oakland."

"We don't want to stop the teaching, but we need to find a way to live," Guzman added.

The strikes at three separate sites were followed by a rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza at City Hall, with a march to OUSD headquarters afterward.

Here is a statement from Oakland Unified School District in response to Friday's "Wildcat strike":

"Some members of the Oakland Education Association (OEA) decided to hold a one-day strike on Friday, March 24 at a number of middle and high schools across Oakland Unified School District. The Oakland Education Association (OEA) stated, in writing, that this strike was not sanctioned by OEA. The District kept all schools open, and students were encouraged to attend classes. Unfortunately, the action did keep some students out of school, and adversely impacted student access to instruction at some schools. The District will continue to negotiate in good faith with OEA."

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