Black student reparations, housing for unhoused students among Oakland teachers' proposals

The fourth day of the Oakland teachers strike brought more pickets, spread over multiple locations around the city, and a lesson in negotiation tactics.

"I’m bringing out the big guns. I shouldn’t have to be casting spells. But if that’s what it takes, then that’s what I’ll do," said teacher Katie Hanson, who donned a witch’s hat as she waved a sign in support of the strike at Grand and MacArthur. "I think it’s really important that OUSD (Oakland Unified School District) bargains for the common good."

Unionized teachers are trying to conjure the Oakland Unified School District’s acceptance of what’s called "Common Good" proposals. Among them, reparations for Black students, whom the union says have been underserved for decades.

"To repair generations of harm that has occurred to our Black families,"  said VanCedric Williams, the school district’s District 3 director.

There’s also a requirement the district provide housing for families of the estimated 1,500 homeless students.

"It’s both a moral and fiscal imperative that we partner with our labor partners, the city, and others to house our unhoused students," said Valerie Bachelor, the school district’s Dist. 6 director.

This push has created a split on the district’s board, which is already offering a 22% pay raise starting next year. Three members are in favor of the proposal, but the chairman and others, are against.

"They simply do not belong in contract language," said OUSD Board President Mike Hutchinson. 

University of New Haven negotiation expert Dr. Robert Albright said there’s no law barring a union from seeking things thought outside the scope of education, during negotiations.


Oakland teachers' strike stretches into day 3

The Oakland teachers' strike entered its third day after weekend negotiations failed to reach a deal.

"It’s not illegal to ask that things be negotiated. It’s not illegal in that sense. They can ask for anything they want," he said.

Albright believed the "Common Good" requests put forth by the Oakland Education Association could be part of an all-too-common tactic in complex negotiations.

"You put something like that on the list which really frightens the school board, and they think would be out of their control and disastrous to take on, then maybe they won’t negotiate as hard on some other items," said Dr. Albright.

A former southern California teacher who became an author, and ultimately sued the California Teachers Association said "Common Good" demands in teacher contract negotiations, "…are a manipulation of our profession."

Day 4 of the Oakland teachers strike. 

Day 4 of the Oakland teachers strike. 

"The unions aren’t who they claim to be," said Rebecca Friedrichs, who founded the non-profit For Kids & Country. "They want to promote a government agenda. An agenda where the government is your caretaker, rather than your family."

With 13 teaching days left until the end of the school year, the pressure is on both sides in this impasse to see what each can live with, and without.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on Twitter, @JesseKTVU and Instagram, @jessegontv

Day 4 of the Oakland teachers strike.