Oakland Teachers Join General Strike Day - NBC Bay Area

Oakland Teachers Join General Strike Day

Nearly 300 day off requests came in from Oakland teacher.



    The city of Oakland and its port are bracing for a massive general strike by Occupy Oakland protesters and possibly labor unions. NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd reports. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011)

    Hundreds of teachers will be among thousands expected to  participate in the general strike organized by Occupy Oakland.
        Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint said teachers were being allowed to join the general strike as long as they provide prior  notice to their supervisors so that proper supervision can be arranged for  students.

        "We support many of the ideals contained in the Occupy Oakland  movement," Flint said. "We believe public education, and other social  services are underfunded. It's impacting kids and families in a negative  way."     Flint said 268 requests for leave were made by teachers in the  district -- about 10 times the average number for a single day. Substitutes  will be arranged to supervise students in the teachers' absence, Flint said.
        He said students are expected to report for school as usual and  that absences will be considered unexcused. Students will have an opportunity  to engage and learn about the social movement in the classroom and after  school, Flint said.
        The entire staffs of at least two schools -- Bridges Academy and  Maxwell High -- are planning to honor the one-day strike.
        Oakland city workers who want to participate in the strike have  been asked to request approval from their supervisors and use leave or a  floating furlough day, or take time off without pay -- sick leave won't  apply.
        City of Oakland spokeswoman Karen Boyd said today that despite the  general strike, "The city of Oakland is open for business, and we urge  businesses to stay open."
        She said Oakland police "will facilitate peaceful marches downtown  and elsewhere" and "we anticipate that the marches will be peaceful."
        Joseph Haraburda, president and CEO of the Oakland Metropolitan  Chamber of Commerce, said local businesses near the encampment in Frank Ogawa  Plaza are struggling and regular customers have stopped showing up at some. 
        "We're disappointed that the city has allowed the Occupy Oakland  residents to reside in downtown Oakland and in the City Hall plaza," he said.
        He said the chamber is encouraging merchants to keep their stores  open on Wednesday.
        "We can't close because of a rowdy crowd," he said.
        Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, of the Oakland Police Officers Association  said all available Oakland police officers will be on duty on Wednesday and  will not participate in the strike.
        The last general strike in Oakland was in 1946.
        Richard Walker, professor of geography and chair of the California  Studies Center at the University of California at Berkeley, said that general  strikes are very rare.
        "If anywhere in America is going to pull it off, it's here in the  Bay Area," Walker said.
        He said many unions have shrinking and some union workers are  prevented by contracts from walking off the job, so a union-sanctioned  general strike may be difficult to achieve. However, he said, many public  servants are likely to join in the protest on Wednesday.
        Walker said the response from students in the Bay Area is likely  to be great, especially students at UC Berkeley.
        Several rallies and marches are planned Wednesday at 14th Street  and Broadway. At 5 p.m., marchers will head to the Port of Oakland to try to  shut it down.