Oakland  instructors  join  nationwide  strike  wave

Oakland instructors join nationwide strike wave

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, March 20, 2019

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/ Source: Associated Press

By Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. — Educators in Oakland, California, went on strike Thursday, part of an continuous nationwide wave of discontent by teachers over class conditions, pay and other problems. Current walkouts have taken place in West Virginia, Los Angeles and Denver.

The city’s 3,000 teachers want a 12- percent retroactive raise covering 2017 to 2020 to compensate for what they say are the among the most affordable incomes for public school instructors in the pricey San Francisco Bay Location. They likewise want the district to hire more therapists to assistance trainees and more full-time nurses.

A union leader stated the educators were forced to strike since he said administrators did not listen to their demands for two years.

“For two years we have been negotiating with the Oakland Unified School District to make our students a priority over outside experts and main workplace administrators,” said Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown. “It’s time for them to listen to the voices of the community.”

The walkout impacts 36,000 students at 86 schools.

The district said schools would remain open, staffed by non-union staff members and replacement instructors. Nevertheless, moms and dads must not anticipate school as normal, it said.

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

Teachers have actually been working without a contract since 2017 and have said their wages have not kept up with the cost of living.

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

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

In negotiations Wednesday aimed at preventing a strike, the district increased its proposition to a 7 percent raise over four years and a one-time 1.5 percent bonus offer. The deal went greater than the recommendation of an independent fact-finding report that recommended the sides concur to a compromise 6- percent retroactive raise.

But union officials rejected the deal.

Kindergarten teacher Kaki Blackburn, 30, was among dozens of teachers picketing outside Manzanita Community School, an primary school, with indications stating “On strike For a Living Wage.”

Blackburn, who teaches 29 kids, said her primary concerns were class size and earnings.

She said her income makes it impossible to afford an home on her own.

“There’s no method I’d be able to live here without a roomie,” she stated. “This is not what I went to Brown University to get a Masters for.”

Manzanita Principal Eyana Spencer said 14 of the school’s 450 trainees turned up for school Thursday. The students were all organized in one classroom playing video games.

Nearly 600 teachers left their positions at Oakland public schools last year, according to the union, which has said the district can not retain teachers or bring in experienced new instructors.

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

Principals are not in the very same union as the teachers and planned to be in schools Thursday however have come out in support of instructors’ demands. About 30 of Oakland’s more than 80 principals went to the state Capitol on Wednesday to call for better school financing.

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

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

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