Nearly 3,000 Oakland Teachers Will Strike Thursday

The Oakland teachers' union said its 3,000 members will strike after negotiating and failing to reach agreement with the Oakland Unified School District for more than a year

The union representing teachers in Oakland said Saturday that it will strike on Thursday Feb. 21, a day after a neutral fact-finding report was issued.

At a news conference, Oakland Education Association president Keith Brown said "enough is enough." The teachers union is demanding a 12 percent raise over the next three years, but the school district said it cannot afford to pay more than 5 percent. 

The Oakland teachers' union said 95 percent of its 3,000 members agreed to strike after negotiating and failing to reach agreement with the Oakland Unified School District for more than a year.

Teachers in the district say they are paid below their peers it the area, which has one of the highest cost-of-living rates in the nation. They are seeking a 12 percent raise over three years as well as smaller class sizes. The district has offered five percent and says it is squeezed by smaller budgets and declining enrollment.

fact-finding report from the Public Employment Relations Board was released Saturday, with recommendations for compromise.

The report found that the teacher crisis in Oakland is much worse than state average. "We didn't need a factfinder to tell us that," Brown said.

Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said in a message posted to the district's website that she was "pleased with the recommendations" and hope to use the report to bring the union back to bargaining.

The spokesperson Oakland Unified School District pointed out that the district and the union both have five days until the strike to come to an agreement.

“We are certainly sad to hear that they have announced that they have planned a strike on Thursday. But this is not a do or die moment. This is a moment where we can still come to an agreement, We can still prevent a strike. We know the teachers don’t want a strike," OUSD spokesperson John Sasaki said.

Almost immediately after the union announced the strike, the school district put out an invitation for negotiators to return for talks and come to a resolution.

Mayor Libby Schaaf is urging both sides to continue negotiating to avoid a walkout. The city plans to open recreation centers and all public libraries for the families of about 37,000 students in the district who would be affected by a strike.

A strike in the city of 400,000 across the bay from San Francisco would follow one by Denver teachers, who ended a three-day walkout after their union reached a tentative deal Thursday.

The strike in Colorado was the latest win in a national movement by teachers demanding better wages and classroom reforms. Teachers in the nation's largest school district, Los Angeles, reached a deal following a six-day strike in January.

Meanwhile, the teachers' union in Sacramento, California, voted Thursday night to seek authorization from members for a strike there, the Sacramento Bee reported Friday.

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