Oakland Education Association/Twitter
Teachers in Oakland, Calif., who went on strike earlier this year said they needed better pay to live in the expensive Bay Area.

Teachers strike continues in Oakland (Calif.) district as negotiations resume

Feb. 21, 2019
Teachers have been without a contract for two years; they say they need higher pay to live in the high-cost Bay Area.

Representatives of the teachers union and the Oakland (Calif.) school district have returned to the bargaining table as the teachers strike entered its second day on Friday.

The East Bay Times reports that many of the 36,000 students in district-run schools were staying away from class as fill-in teachers and administrative staff tried to take the place of striking educators.

The teachers union is seeking a 12 percent pay increase over three years, and the administration is nw offering a 7 percent raise and 1.5 percent one-time bonus.

Earlier: Teachers in the Oakland (Calif.) Unified District went on strike Thursday morning in pursuit of better pay.

The East Bay Times reports that the district's 3,000 teachers and their supporters are expected to demonstrate at all of the system’s 100 public schools, according to the Oakland Education Association. .

The strike by Oakland teachers comes on the heels of a weeklong walkout in Los Angeles last month, a three-day job action earlier this month in Denver, and a two-day strike by teachers in West Virginia earlier this week.

For Oakland teachers, it will be the third strike in 23 years. The last one occurred in 2010 and ended after a day; another walkout, in 1996, lasted for 26 days. 

School principals have been warning parents this week about what to expect during the strike. The district says it is staffing classrooms with substitute teachers as well as administrative staff.

The Oakland Education Association and the district have been negotiating off and on since their contract expired about two years ago.

The union contends the district’s offers don’t come close to paying teachers enough to make ends meet in the high-cost San Francisco Bay Area. The average annual salary for Oakland teachers was $63,149 in 2017-18, according to a report from the state’s Department of Education. Salaries ranged from $46,570 to $83,724.

Before talks broke off Wednesday, Oakland Unified offered an across-the-board raise of about 7 percent raise across two-and-a-half years retroactive to Jan. 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2021, plus a 1.5 percent bonus. The union has been holding out for a 12 percent increase over three years.

Oakland officials say that the district can't afford a salary increase of that size. Administrators say the school system has a budget shortfall that could hit $56.6 million by the 2020-21 school year unless drastic cuts are made.

The district has about 50,000 students—about 36,000 in district-run schools, and nearly 14,000 in district-authorized charter schools.

For students who choose not to cross picket lines, the city was offering space in 15 recreation centers that will be staffed by union members and volunteers.  

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