Teachers' Strike in Oakland

Teachers' Strike in Oakland

The seven-day strike in Oakland was part of a series of recent teachers' strikes in the U.S.

Since last year’s statewide strike of teachers in West Virginia, a series of teachers’ strikes have taken place in individual districts across the United States-- in response to a situation in which teachers are having to take second jobs to make ends meet, live in shared rooms, and pay for their own classroom supplies (1). Teachers in Oakland make some of the lowest wages in the Bay Area, and one of their demands was a 12% retroactive pay raise covering 2017 to 2020 (2). They also demanded smaller classes, more counselors and nurses, and an end to school closures (3). (Oakland Unified has considered closing up to 24 schools in the next 5 years) (4). The seven-day strike went on from Thursday, February 21 to Friday, March 1.

I was on the picket lines at Oakland High Monday morning, from 8 to 10:30 AM. In addition to Oakland High teachers, there were many students, as well as people from around Oakland and the East Bay. It was an inspiring scene, and one of many at schools throughout Oakland.

Oakland teachers reached a tentative agreement with the district Friday afternoon-- an 11% pay raise over four years and more counselors and other support staff. It also calls for a five-month moratorium on school closures and one less student per class in some schools (5).

However many feel that the mild concessions made in the tentative agreement are not enough, hardly defending against school closures and privatization of education through charter schools, addressing school nurses, or providing a substantial pay increase. The deal was praised by all the wrong people, including GO Public Schools, a prominent advocate for charter schools in Oakland (6). Teachers are encouraged to continue to organize independently of the union.
1. https://www.npr.org/2019/02/22/695957426/oakland-los-angeles-and-more-to-come-why-teachers-keep-going-on-strike
2. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/oakland-teachers-go-strike-demand-pay-raises-n974151
3. https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/otisrtaylorjr/article/Oakland-teachers-strike-is-about-future-of-13638924.php
4. https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2019/01/08/oakland-unified-scrambles-to-identify-as-many-as-24-schools-that-could-be-closed-in-next-5-years/
5. https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2019/03/01/oakland-teachers-tentative-agreement-end-strike/
6. https://gopublicschoolsoakland.org/2019/03/breaking-oakland-teachers-strike-ends-with-tentative-agreement/

Posted By

Lydia Hirsch
Mar 2 2019 10:33

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  • "Teachers’ strikes have taken place in individual districts across the United States...Teachers in Oakland make some of the lowest wages in the Bay Area."

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Ed
Mar 2 2019 11:20

Hi Lydia, thanks for this. Do you think you could add an image and also put proper spaces between paragraphs? Articles with images get shared more on social media while having spaces between paras makes it easier to read on a computer.

Thanks!

Ed
Mar 2 2019 12:07

Just seen here on the DSA Communist Caucus twitter:

The Oakland teacher strike is NOT OVER! Widespread agreement that the tentative agreement SUCKS. People picketed today in defiance of OEA and were chanting "VOTE NO," chanting that we can get more, and that the strike is being ended prematurely

Lydia Hirsch
Mar 2 2019 20:20

thanks! I'll update it to reflect this and also with an image.

Hieronymous
Mar 4 2019 05:28

I was in Oakland last Friday (1 March) when the Tentative Agreement was reached. In the morning I visited 5 schools, all in "Deep East" Oakland, but only 3 still had pickets (Fremont and Castlemont Highs; and Burckhalter Elementary) when I walked the lines (all the strikers had left Roots Academy, which is slated to be closed; East Oakland Pride Elementary, where I once worked for a semester, has been reconfigured as a "small school" and was deserted). While driving, I also saw what looked like a strip mall full of kids on Foothill Boulevard; it turned out to be Oakland Charter Academy, the first in the city in 1994 (and one of the first in the state; 30% of Oakland's K-12 students go to charters, the highest in California). It was pretty demoralizing to see the strike end with a whimper, rather than a bang. I'll write a proper reflection when I have more time, because I was actually having coffee with some veteran teacher militants when the TA was announced. As you could expect, they were full of fury at how the nurses got thrown under the bus (they got a "signing bonus," but no increased staffing) and how nothing substantial got decided about school closures with the 5-month moratorium (the district was smart: they'll close the 24 schools when the teachers and students are on summer vacation).

Here's the result of today's vote to approve the settlement and new contract:

    yes = 58%
    no = 42%

Clearly, there's more to say. But as one of the recently retired Oakland teachers made clear, having gone without a contract since mid-2017, this must be seen as a defensive strike and the criteria for success is different in the bluest region of the bluest state. The Democrats (and in this part of California they're all liberal Democrats; CTA is one of their main financiers and vote getters), from Governor Newsom on down, were heavily invested in a quick settlement.

And I'd take whatever the Berniecrats in DSA (even those marching behind a red flag) say on social media with a grain of salt. More hyperbole than reality.