How similar is the Oakland teachers strike to others in Chicago and Los Angeles?

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Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Oakland teachers strike similar to Chicago and LA, expert says
Labor experts say the ongoing Oakland teacher strike is similar to what's been seen over the last ten years across the country.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Labor experts say the ongoing teachers strike in Oakland is similar to what's been seen over the last ten years across the country.

"Despite the OUSD negotiations teams spending the entire weekend trying to find a collaborative way forward, OEA has continued their strike," said Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell.

That is part of the one-minute message put out Monday night by the Oakland Unified School District as the strike continues into its fourth day on Tuesday.

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The Oakland teachers strike continued for a third day on Monday. And though there appeared to be progress with negotiations, neither side met.

UC Berkeley Labor Center Chair Ken Jacobs has been closely following the situation.

"I think this strike really follows the pattern that we've been seeing with teachers really for a decade now starting with the Chicago Teachers Union," said Jacobs.

He says that the Chicago union also pushed for broader demands in addition to teacher pay to benefit students and communities. This is also something that Los Angeles teachers recently pushed for and won. Shared governance at schools was a major demand.

"The community schools issue is a great example, we're trying to develop these schools and LA and Oakland have talked together about the community schools model," said Julie Van Winkle, secondary vice president of United Teachers Los Angeles. "It's something that is happening across the country. Community schools actually allow more parent input, more community input than at standard schools."

Housing for homeless students is another one of those issues.

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"One of the things Chicago teachers won a decade ago was resources to support homeless students," said Jacobs. "One of the demands we see from the Oakland Education Association this time around is that the school district uses surplus land to allow non-profits to build housing to house homeless students and their families."

Hundreds took to the streets of Oakland Monday in support of the teacher's union and will continue on Tuesday, but educators in LA say this could be a battle.

"I think that actually in LA our district is probably getting used to us asking for more than just a salary, and I assume in Oakland it is the same but that doesn't mean that it is easy to win those things," said Van Winkle.

Jacobs tells ABC7 News teacher pay has not kept up with inflation in the slightest and now other issues are being brought to the table. The district has not publicly confirmed it is negotiating these common good items, those issues outside of teacher pay, but union negotiators say they are.

Jacobs says that the strike does disrupt education and has an immediate impact on kids, but he believes long-term benefits outweigh those negatives.

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