OAKLAND, Calif. - Teachers at the Oakland Educators Association office said they plan to rally outside the OUSD board meeting Wednesday, one day after the union announced the members had voted to authorize a strike if labor contract talks don't progress.
"My big concern is that we'll have to go on strike next week because our district won't come to the table and bargain in good faith. They've had six months to settle this contract," said Carrie Anderson, an Oakland second-grade teacher.
"Eighty-seven percent of our members participated in our strike election, and 88% of those voted ‘yes’ to authorize a strike," said Ishmael Armendariz, interim president of the Oakland Education Association.
The teachers union says they want more school safety and a living wage that goes beyond the district's proposed 3.5% raise over two years.
"California state mediators have reached out in attempts to support us in reaching an agreement," said Vilma Serrano, co-chair of the OEA Bargaining Team. OEA has accepted that support. Now it's up to OUSD."
Last Thursday, the district requested "injunctive relief", asking the Public Employment Relations Board to prohibit a strike. But that request was denied by the Public Employment Relations Board, which means a strike can move forward, the teachers union said.
Oakland School Board President Mike Hutchinson says the district is still actively negotiating in good faith.
He says the latest offer includes a 3.5% pay raise and retention bonus incentives of $5,000-$10,000 to teachers with seniority over three years. He says it would also shorten the timeline for teachers to reach the maximum pay scale to 19 years from the current 32 years.
"That offer would bring most teachers in Oakland an 18-22% raise from numbers I've seen," Hutchinson said. "If this offer for compensation was accepted, it would put our teachers above [the] median in Alameda County, which would be a historic step for us."
Hutchinson says OUSD has a difficult budget balancing act.
"We're trying to be able to fund all of the schools in every neighborhood and not close schools, while also giving a historic raise to our teachers, while at the same time leaving state receivership after 20 years," said Hutchinson.
Some parents; however, even those who support teachers, say a strike would be terrible for the children.
"It's very frustrating as a parent because we've just come off pandemic, zoom classes. My kids lost so much learning from that time, and they're just now starting to catch up," said Justine Nguyen, a parent with two children in the Oakland school district.
The union president says if they do call a strike, they will give the district and parents 48-72 hours advance notice.