OUSD officials advise educators to not participate in 'sick-out' Monday

The Oakland Unified School District has issued a warning to Oakland High School teachers planning a work stoppage Monday to not call-in sick, according to district officials.

The teachers plan to march to City Hall to call attention to a bargaining impasse between the school district and the teacher's union, organizers said.

District officials said educators who participate in the "sick out" might be subject to disciplinary action and a loss of pay. The teachers can't use sick leave or personal leave - it will go unpaid and a doctor's note may be required from teachers who use sick leave, according to district officials.

"This development is concerning for a number of reasons, so we want to make sure you have all the necessary information to help you make the best decision in this situation," read a part of the email that was distributed by OUSD officials on Friday night.

The work stoppage is not a sanctioned union event, but Oakland High School English teacher Miles Murray said, "We felt it was time to go out ahead of them." 

"People were sick of the very slow moving and uninspiring actions being proposed by the union itself," Murray added. 

He said without the action teachers face either a poor settlement or a stressful strike so he and others feel something must be done. 

A call to the union was not returned Friday night and no comment was received as of this morning.

District officials said the district is in the fact-finding stage of negotiations.

"It may be helpful for any concerned teacher to check in with Oakland Education Association leadership regarding when these types of actions are legal," district officials said in the email to educators.

Murray also placed some responsibility on the district, whose negotiators he said have stalled and disrespected the union. 

Murray said teachers in the district have been without a contract for about two years and teachers' wages are the lowest in the San Francisco Bay Area and possibly the lowest in the state.

A majority of teachers at Oakland High School support the stoppage.

"We're at an impasse," Oakland High School science department chair Suzi LeBaron said. 

She said the district is proposing a 1 percent raise per year over five years, which amounts to about $70 annually for her. She said bargaining hasn't gone any further than that. 

Organizers of the stoppage have no beef with school administrators. 

"Oakland High is a fantastic school," LeBaron said. She added that the principal makes good choices, but the district is a whole different story. 

Organizers are hoping Mayor Libby Schaaf will take time to speak with them Monday. 

Murray said teachers planning to attend the walkout want a raise that's commensurate with their status as teachers and in line with inflation.

"We want to live where we teach," he said, a sentiment expressed by teachers in San Francisco as well. 

He said teacher's pay should reflect all the work teachers do at home, the training teachers receive and the dedication that it takes to stay in the profession.