Oakland  teachers  to  start  strike  Thursday

Oakland teachers to start strike Thursday

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, March 8, 2019

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Educators in Oakland, California, planned to raise picket signs Thursday in the country’s newest strike by educators over classroom conditions and pay.

The city’s 3,000 instructors are demanding a 12 percent retroactive raise covering 2017 to 2020 to compensate for what they say are the among the least expensive incomes for public school instructors in the exorbitantly costly San Francisco Bay Area. They also want the district to hire more counselors to support trainees and more full-time nurses.

The walkout beginning Thursday impacts 36,000 students at 86 schools.

In a message to parents, the Oakland Unified School District said schools will remain open, staffed by non-union staff members and substitute teachers. However, moms and dads should not expect school as usual, it said.

“We’re confident that we can find a resolution as soon as possible,” stated district representative John Sasaki.

Oakland teachers have actually been working without a contract since 2017 and say their salaries are not keeping up with the cost of living.

A teacher’s beginning income in the district is $46,500 a year and the average salary is $63,000, according to the union. By comparison, a starting instructor makes $51,000 a year in surrounding Berkeley and the average income is $75,000, the union stated.

Initially, the district provided a 5 percent raise covering 2017 to 2020, saying it is squeezed by increasing expenses and a budget plan crisis.

In settlements Wednesday aimed at preventing a strike, the district increased its proposal to a 7 percent raise over 4 years and a one-time 1.5 percent benefit. The offer went greater than the suggestion of an independent fact-finding report that recommended the two sides concur to a compromise 6 percent retroactive raise.

But union authorities with the Oakland Education Association declined the offer Wednesday.

Union president Keith Brown stated the most current deal does not address the high cost of living that is driving educators out of Oakland.

Nearly 600 teachers left their positions at Oakland public schools last year, according to the union, which says the district can’t maintain teachers or bring in knowledgeable brand-new teachers with such low earnings.

The talks have not focused on pension or health care advantages, which are totally free for full-time employees and their beneficiaries. The Oakland district spends an extra $13,487 per instructor every year for health benefits for educators and their families.

The union has also called for the district to scrap a plan to close as numerous as 24 schools that serve mostly African-American and Latino students. The union fears the relocation would likely lead to further losses of trainees to charter schools that drain more than $57 million a year from Oakland public schools.

Principals are not in the exact same union as the instructors and strategy to be in schools Thursday but have come out in assistance of teachers’ demands.

About 30 of Oakland’s more than 80 school principals went to the state Capitol on Wednesday to call for much better school financing ahead of the strike.

“Pretty much every principal is in assistance of the instructors having higher pay,” said Cliff Hong, an Oakland middle school principal.

Recent strikes throughout the nation have developed on a wave of instructor activism that started last spring. Unions for West Virginia teachers, who went on a nine-day walkout last year, ended their two-day strike Wednesday night. Last week, instructors in Denver ended a three-day walkout after reaching a tentative deal raising their earnings.

Teachers in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school district, staged a six-day strike last month that ended when they settled on a 6 percent raise with promises of smaller sized class sizes and the addition of nurses and therapists.

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