Oakland teacher's union voting whether to authorize strike

Tuesday marks the first day of voting for teachers in the Oakland Education Association over whether to potentially strike.

Union member Patricia Segura says polls are open until Friday to accommodate the 3,000 O.E.A members.

“Given that we work in Oakland, the teachers in Oakland want to live where they serve their community,” said union member Patricia Segura.

After nearly two years of negotiations, pay raises are one of the key issues which the union and the Oakland School District have reached a stalemate. 

"There's a lot of frustration about wanting to live in the community and serve the community and not being able to do that,” Segura, who has been part of the bargaining, told KTVU. 

They're also asking for more school nurses and counselors and smaller class sizes. 

Voting on whether to authorize a strike came a day after Oakland Unified School board members voted 
6-to-1 to close Roots Academy in an effort to close the district’s projected $30 million budget deficit.

The closure of Roots raises the question as to whether the district can meet the small class size demand.

Segura believes the closing of Roots during contract negotiations is no coincidence.

“They're using the current financial situation… what they frame as being a need for funding, but what OEA is saying is the funding is there,” she told us. 

More than twenty schools could either be closed of consolidated over the next several years, although the exact number and locations have yet to be determined. 

“Currently there is the combination, the combining of two co located schools right now that's happening going into next school year… Elmhurst Community Prep & Alliance Academy which are co-located middle schools. Those are becoming one school right now so essentially one of those schools goes away. Is that a closure? Technically, yes. But those students will stay on that campus,” said John Sasaki, spokesperson for OUSD.

Sasaki says that the district already the best teacher to student ratio in the state of California and that the aim is to maintain the ratio going forward. 

“We are very focused on class sizes as well. We want to make sure we don't have any under enroll class sizes as well,” Sasaki said.

Teachers and educators have until Friday to cast their vote for a potential strike with results expected to be released on Monday February 4.