Oakland Teachers Set Prospective Strike Vote Dates

The Oakland Education Association called a strike authorization vote over four days, starting Jan. 29, at all Oakland Unified School District sites that will allow union leaders to call a strike, once a state fact-finding process is finished, union officials said Sunday.

All of the union's approximately 3,000 members will have the chance to vote by secret ballot through Feb. 1, OEA President Keith Brown said at a Sunday press conference.

"If the district does not present a proposal that truly commits to ending the teacher retention crisis, that does not commit to lowering class sizes, investing in student support and investing in a living wage to keep teachers in Oakland, then it's time for Oakland teachers to draw the line, and that line will be a picket line," Brown said.

Teachers could legally strike after a fact-finding hearing Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 with a state-appointed neutral mediator who is expected to issue a non-binding report about the union-district showdown. Seven previous state mediation sessions were unsuccessful.

The union is demanding a 12 percent raise over three years, while the district is offering 5 percent. OEA is also demanding smaller class sizes and the hiring of more school counselors and nurses.

School district officials last week said the district is willing to increase teachers' pay, but is monetarily limited in what more can be given.

"We would love to give our teachers the world," district spokesman John Sasaki told Bay City News Service. "But we just don't have the world to give them."

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