Oakland teachers say they'll strike Thursday if no agreement reached by then

Oakland teacher's union announced Monday evening they plan to strike Thursday, May 4 if no agreement is reached by then with the Oakland Unified School District. 

Last week, the teacher's union overwhelmingly authorized a strike citing unfair labor practice. There were also rallies held for teachers. 

The teacher's union held a 5 p.m. news conference accusing the district of stalling negotiations. They've been working toward a contract for months that they ultimately hope will recruit and retain teachers and meet the needs of students. 

"The district continues to come to the table unprepared and this is unacceptable," said OEA Interim Director Ismael Armendariz. "Our educators here are pouring their hearts and their soul and their time into these proposals. The district has failed to bargain in good faith."

Of the 3,000 union members, 88% voted to authorize this strike last week. The strike is slated to begin less than 72 hours from now. Teachers will hit the picket lines after days and hours of negotiations. 

"We've been there really all weekend long attempting to get an agreement because we want to avoid the strike and at this point it is in the district’s hands," said Kampala Taiz-Rancifer, Oakland Education Association Vice President. 

At odds is teacher's pay, their safety, working hours and class sizes. The union has also been pushing for increased mental health supports for students and improved services for those with disabilities.

Oakland teachers have some of the lowest salaries among educators in the Bay Area. 

"I think teachers should strike if they are not getting what they deserve," said Pecolia Manigo a parent with students in the district. 

Oakland Unified responded to the union's intent to strike Thursday in a statement.

"Our team has remained at the bargaining table daily since Thursday and is committed to continuing to work in good faith toward a contract that works for both sides. We remain optimistic that we will collectively come to a resolution in time to prevent the teachers from hitting the picket lines, and keeping our kids in school."

It has been seven months and still there has been no agreement. It's similar to a teacher's strike from just a few years ago, frustrating some parents. 

"At the heart of the issue is the same issue that happened in 2019. We need stability. We have classrooms where we have long term subs, we have instability at our high school levels with counselors not being available to our students…those are things that also affect the quality of education for our students," Manigo said. 

When union members voted to authorize the strike last week OUSD responded in a video statement where they outlined their officer to bump-up salaries to above average teacher pay in the Bay Area. 

"Any report that the district is not offering a fair and reasonable compensation package to all the OEA members is false," Superintendant Kyla Johnson-Trammell said. 

The district said it's prioritizing resources to make sure every student has a qualified teacher. But despite promises, the Oakland Education Association disagrees.

"We’re not being able to actually listen to one another and I think as those conversations start to happen with authenticity – we’ll be able to bring this district back together," Taiz-Rancifer said. 


Large turnout at rally for Oakland teachers, strike likely next week

At a Wednesday rally, Oakland teachers were fired up because they now have a clearer pathway to settle or strike. With 88% of teachers voting to strike, the Oakland Education Association union, says it is still hoping for a settlement.