Oakland Teachers Take to the Streets to Call for Better Pay

A group of Oakland teachers engaged in a major disruption on Friday to protest the slow pace of contract talks between the Oakland Unified School District and the teachers' union.

The action on Friday was organized by a group of Oakland High School teachers called the Wildcat Underground that coordinated a sickout by dozens of teachers on Dec. 10.

Teachers and students from Oakland High School, Oakland Technical High School, Life Academy, Skyline, United for Success Academy, and Fremont High School gathered at Oakland Tech at 4531 Broadway at 8 a.m. on Friday for a rally outside the school.

At 9 a.m. teachers and students started marching to school district offices at 1000 Broadway, which is two-and-a-half miles away, and at 10 a.m., teachers, student, and allies gathered outside the school offices.

"We hope to disrupt district business as usual, Oakland High School history teacher Cole Margen said in a statement.

Margen said, "We need our district to understand that we are on the brink of a catastrophic strike. This will impact Oakland's educational system, both teachers and students."

He said, "The issues we face are similar to those in Los Angeles," where teachers went on strike on Monday.

Margen said Friday's action isn't sanctioned by the Oakland Education Association, the union that represents teachers.

The OEA said last week that it is strongly considering conducting a strike authorization vote by the end of the month.

The teachers organizing the action on Friday noted that a strike by Oakland teachers lasted for more than two months.

Contract talks between the school district and the union have been going on for about a year and a half.

The two sides currently are in the midst of fact-finding.

The school district's most recent offer to the teachers is a 5 percent raise over the next three years.

Suzi LeBaron, a science teacher and pathway director at Oakland High School, said, "Held up against the cost of living, this offer would send us economically backward."

Commenting on the teachers' planned action on Friday, Oakland schools Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said in a statement, "We urge them not to engage in this illegal labor action which is not sanctioned by their union."

Johnson-Trammell said, "It is also a move that runs counter to our collective efforts to reach an agreement between the OEA and the school district as both parties are engaged, in good faith, in the fact-finding process with the California Public Employment Relations Board."

She said, "We want our teachers to know that everyone on the Board of Education and in district leadership firmly believe that they deserve to be paid more than they currently are. We are hopeful that our teachers will remain in class supporting students on Friday."

Johnson-Trammell added, "We are committed to working with the OEA to come to an equitable contract that works for both sides."

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