OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Labor negotiations in the Oakland teachers' strike are set to continue on Tuesday after a third day of picket lines and bargaining table meetings came to an end Monday night without a resolution.
Not even the help of political powerhouses state Supt. Tony Thurmond and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who lent their voices during the strike on Monday, seemed to sway the two sides from finding an agreement.
The impasse means that the district's 37,000 students will not have "school as usual" for a fourth day on Tuesday.
Union representatives said they are pleased Thurmond is involved in the negotiations and is expected to mediate when talks resume on Tuesday.
#OaklandTeachersStrike update: #OEA Teacher's union says bargaining has ended for the night. Union says State Superintendent @TonyThurmond will continue helping as mediator Tuesday. @OaklandEA 11:30am march from Verdese Park, 9600 Sunnyside St. to Roots Academy for rally.— Jana Katsuyama (@JanaKTVU) February 26, 2019
Reich, who's now a chancellor's professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was invited to a noon rally on behalf of the teachers and was not part of the official bargaining. At the rally, he questioned the Oakland Unified School District's assertion that it can't afford to give teachers the 12 percent raise over three years that they are seeking.
"When people in power say that they can't afford it, what they mean is either they don't care or they're not going to work hard to get the resources necessary," Reich said.
Reich told the teachers that by going on strike, "What you are doing is bringing attention to a fundamental injustice, a fundamental imbalance in power."
Reich alleged that school district officials "don't want to stand up for the children of Oakland." He said, "Not only is that unjust, it is cowardice."
At a separate rally earlier Monday morning at Melrose Elementary School, Ismael Armendariz, vice president of OEA, says 10,000 people have come out in support of the teachers in the last 2 days, and 3 percent of students have come to school during the strike.
"The strength of our strike is unprecedented," he said.
While all the district's 87 public schools are open, supervised by administrators and retired principals, there are only a handful of students actually attending school. Many other students are being supervised at rec centers throughout the city, but they have not officially cracked open a text book since last Thursday. Others are hanging out at home, with no formal plans.
“The teachers aren't getting paid,” said 11-year-old Christensen. “I’m not getting my education. Neither are any other students. I want to be in school. I want to have an education.”
At Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in West Oakland, only a few parents came to after school pick-up time. Mi'chele Brown came to pick up her 5-year-old daughter.
"There were only six to eight students maybe. Maybe 10 at the most but it wasn't a lot," Brown said.
She said she supports the teachers' strike, but as a working mom, she has limited options.
"I don't want her to come with me because it's not learning. You know what I'm saying? I do hair so I'm in the shop braiding when she could be in the classroom reading," said Brown.
On Sunday, Jenine Lindsey, the labor negotiator for the district, said the teachers union didn't budge from its May proposal of a 12-percent raise over three years. The negotiator also said it was the teachers union who didn't want to negotiate on Saturday and who called off talks on Sunday within 60 minutes. On Sunday evening, the union, on Facebook, said it was the district that isn't ready to "end the teacher retention crisis."
The district is now offering a 7 percent retroactive raise plus a 1.5 percent one-time bonus, up from an initial 5 percent.
"We want to give them everything they are asking for," Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell said on Sunday. "However we cannot afford to do that."
OUSD says there are “disappointing rumors” out there that the district is threatening the immigration status of students who don’t go to school during the strike. That is completely untrue—OUSD is a sanctuary district. Listen to call https://t.co/K08MkdLOQR— Lisa Fernandez (@ljfernandez) February 25, 2019
In another development, the district said that there were "disappointing rumors" circulating that administrators were planning to threaten the immigration status of students who don't attend during the strike. That is completely untrue, the district said in a Sunday evening call to parents, reminding them that OUSD is a sanctuary district.
While the district has been clear in supporting the overall idea that teachers should be paid more, spokesman John Sasaki said a 12-percent raise would cost $60 million and the union’s class size reduction proposal would cost the district between $18 million and $30 million. That is money the district doesn't have, he said.
The district currently faces a budget shortfall expected to reach $56 million by the 2020-21 school year. The cuts could include laying off more than 100 employees and slashing $3 million from schools’ discretionary funds.