Oakland teachers to strike if no deal reached with school district by Thursday

ByLyanne Melendez and Tim Johns KGO logo
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Oakland teachers to strike if no deal reached by Thursday
The Oakland teachers union announced on Monday they will go on a strike if no deal is reached with the school district by Thursday, May 4.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Oakland teachers union announced on Monday they will go on a strike if no deal is reached with the school district by Thursday, May 4.

"We've done everything we can to avert this strike. The district has truly failed our students and the time for us to act is now," said Ismael Armendariz, of the Oakland Education Association.

Teachers have been working without a contract since October.

May 1 commemorates the struggles of the labor movement. On Monday, both the teachers union and the Oakland School District continued negotiating to avoid a strike with only 25 days before the end of the school year.

RELATED: Oakland teachers union votes to authorize strike

The signs are stacked at union headquarters and a strike kit has been given to representatives at each school.

Oakland Unified parents and former parents are weighing in.

"They're going to school if they do strike, my kids are going to school. We crossed last time, we'll cross this time," insisted Reginald Mosley who has three kids in Oakland public schools.

Both Anthony Landry and his children attended Oakland public schools. He says he understands teachers here when they say they are underpaid.

"I wanna work, I want to deal with the kids and I do want to help them out - how can I do this if I can't pay my bills at the same time. I'm not getting enough for me to do what I need to do," added Landry.

Oakland teachers are among the lowest paid in Alameda County with salaries ranging from 52,000 to 99,000

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

The union is asking for a 23% pay raise across the board. But the district has offered a 22% increase for the most tenured teachers and staff, calling it "structured salary increases." That would put them at the higher end of the pay scale in the region. But it also means that new instructors, counselors and early childhood education teachers, among others, would receive a lower pay raise.

A proposal that some OUSD parents find unacceptable.

"We stand with our teachers, we support our teachers, and it hurts us to see this happen to our teachers," said one parent.

In response to the potential strike, OUSD released a statement which reads in part:

"Our team has remained at the bargaining table daily since Thursday and is committed to continuing to work in good faith toward a contract that works for both sides. We remain optimistic that we will collectively come to a resolution in time to prevent the teachers from hitting the picket lines and keeping our kids in school."

That is also what some district parents want to see, instead of a strike.

Many recently signed a petition urging teachers to stay in the classroom.

MORE: Oakland school board rejects proposed resolutions to cut budget, lay off staff

"It's not fair, it's not equitable, it's not just that these students continue to miss critical classroom instruction time," said parent, Annie Gottbehuet.

Gottbehuet is one of those parents.

She says while she's supported teacher strikes in the past, she thinks the current proposals put forward by the district are fair.

"The learning loss will continue into next year if we do not have a fair contract if such a high percentage of teachers keep leaving our district," said union representative, Olivia Udovic.

Mosley says he wants his kids in school because they are still struggling with the learning loss brought on by the pandemic.

"If you have a salary dispute, dispute that on the side but do your contract," he added.

A year ago during this time, teachers had a one-day walk out to protest the closure and merger of some schools. While they threatened to strike, they did not.

The last time, teachers went on strike over pay raises was 2019. The walk out lasted seven days.

Gottbehuet tells ABC7 News that after the strikes of 2019 and the COVID closures of the last several years, Oakland kids can't afford to lose any more valuable classroom time.

"Coming down to the last four weeks of school, again, there are so many kids that are so many kids that are going to be impacted one way or another on this," she said.

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