An FAQ for Parents, FROM Parents, about a possible Oakland Teacher Strike

  • Why is the Oakland Education Association (“OEA”) possibly taking this action? OEA has been operating without a contract since October – but the Oakland Unified School District (“OUSD”) has not until recently prioritized serious negotiations with teachers. Settling a contract now is key to retaining teachers for next year. This is why OEA has filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) with the Public Employee Relations Board – because OUSD has not been bargaining in good faith.
  • Is a possible strike legal? Yes. OUSD can’t delay, delay, delay then complain when teachers vote to strike because of that bad faith delay – and the Public Employee Relations Board just agreed that OUSD has a right to strike by refusing to grant a stay to OUSD of this potential ULP strike.
  • I support our teachers, but why should I support this union action? OEA teachers ARE the union – you can’t support teachers while attacking the Union – and teachers overwhelmingly support this potential strike. 
  • I think teachers should be paid more, but why are they asking for all of these other things? Teachers need a living wage, but they must also have the supports needed to adequately teach our kids. These are not “extras” and are critical to student success. Teachers created their contract proposal, including these “common good” demands, in partnership with parents and students over the past several years to address issues that our students experience that interfere with their ability to learn.
  • Won’t striking now hurt the kids they teach? Parents overwhelmingly trust their childrens’ teachers to care for their kids everyday. Why would we imagine that those same teachers are putting students at risk and/or not fighting hard for our kids’ needs by preparing to strike to ensure our students have what they need to thrive? Teachers need to be able to afford to stay in Oakland and secure the long-term conditions for that will help students succeed.
  • I’m hearing from the District that they are offering a “historic raise” – what’s up with that? OUSD is not being transparent or completely honest about what they are/are not offering and what it means. This is causing a lot of confusion and is part of a PR campaign to convince parents (via that ParentSquare App ALL parents see) to blame teachers for OUSD’s own failure to bargain with urgency and fairness.
  • OUSD says part of what it is offering teachers is a 4.5% raise but teachers say that is not true, what is the deal? One of those confusing points is about the 4.5% that OUSD claims as part of its “historic raise” but is tied to an additional 2 hours per week of extra work (5.6-6% more work for educators). We all know that teachers work way more hours than their contract requires. This extra 4.5% would not cover that. Instead, it would add additional work time on top of the unpaid work that they already do and is not even enough to compensate for the required extra time. That is NOT a raise. In addition, the 4.5% is also only for K-12 classroom teachers, not early childhood educators, counselors, nurses, school psychologists, or the many other OEA educators who support Oakland students. 
  • Isn’t OUSD prioritizing its spending to pay our teachers what they deserve? OUSD has consistently NOT prioritized our students or our teachers. For years, our teachers have been the lowest paid educators in Alameda County while OUSD overspent in central office, consultants and education reforms that bring press coverage but not student progress. We way overspend on our central office – our central Supervisory/Administrative costs are close to 600% above the state average and despite promises to downsize the central office, it remains far higher than any other district. Just changing that one thing could save almost $30 million per year. Yet despite promising to do so for, OUSD has failed to do so.

OUSD has the Power to avoid a strike, let them know that you expect that is exactly what they will do!

No one wants a strike, especially not teachers who are so tired near the end of the year and will not be paid for that time. Teachers have authorized an Unfair Labor Practices Strike, but OUSD has the power to avoid a strike by coming to the bargaining table with fair contract proposals that address teacher concerns AND support students. The best thing we can do as parents is to tell OUSD to settle this contract NOW! Email school board members, Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell and Labor Relations head Jenine Lindsey today!

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