San Francisco

Oakland Unified Teachers, Students Participate in Walkout, March

The one-day work stoppage was to call attention to a bargaining impasse between the school district and the teacher's union

Teachers and students from Oakland High School participated in a one-day walkout Monday, calling attention to an impasse in bargaining between the teachers union and Oakland Unified School District.

The district had issued a warning to Oakland High teachers to not call in sick, according to district officials, so those participating reportedly used personal days.

Teachers and students from Oakland High School, Madison Park Academy and Fremont High School took their chants to City Hall, demanding that the district give teachers a raise and minimize school class size.

"I get paid to work, what seven hours a day," Oakland High teacher Lara Trale said. "My average work day is somewhere between 10 and 12 hours plus weekends."

The starting salary for a teacher in Oakland with a bachelor’s degree is less than $47,000.

"We all want our educators to be paid more, there’s no question about it," district spokesman John Sasaki said.

The work stoppage was not a sanctioned union event, but Oakland High School English teacher Miles Murray said, "We felt it was time to go out ahead of them."

"People were sick of the very slow moving and uninspiring actions being proposed by the union itself," Murray added.

He said without the action, teachers face either a poor settlement or a stressful strike so he and others feel something must be done.

A call to the union was not returned Friday night and no comment was received as of Sunday morning.

District officials said the district is in the fact-finding stage of negotiations.

"It may be helpful for any concerned teacher to check in with Oakland Education Association leadership regarding when these types of actions are legal," district officials said in the email to educators.

Murray also placed some responsibility on the district, whose negotiators he said have stalled and disrespected the union.

Murray said teachers in the district have been without a contract for about two years and teachers' wages are the lowest in the San Francisco Bay Area and possibly the lowest in the state.

A majority of teachers at Oakland High School support the stoppage.

"We're at an impasse," Oakland High School science department chair Suzi LeBaron said.

She said the district is proposing a 1 percent raise per year over five years, which amounts to about $70 annually for her. She said bargaining hasn't gone any further than that.

Organizers of the stoppage have no beef with school administrators.

"Oakland High is a fantastic school," LeBaron said. She added that the principal makes good choices, but the district is a whole different story.

Organizers are hoping Mayor Libby Schaaf will take time to speak with them Monday.

Murray said teachers planning to attend the walkout want a raise that's commensurate with their status as teachers and in line with inflation.

"We want to live where we teach," he said, a sentiment expressed by teachers in San Francisco as well.

He said teacher's pay should reflect all the work teachers do at home, the training teachers receive and the dedication that it takes to stay in the profession.

Copyright BAYCN - Bay City News
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