Oakland teachers strike ends in 11 percent salary raise


Sjoerd Huitema

Chemistry teacher Felix Guzman wears a T-shirt in support of the Oakland teachers strike.

Sjoerd Huitema, Staff writer

Three thousand Oakland teachers started a widespread strike which only recently ended. This strike affected a total of 86 schools in the OUSD (Oakland Unified School District), housing a total of 36,000 students.

Schools were said to remain open still by the OUSD during the strike, although the District said that only 6 percent of students on average in the 86 schools returned to them once the strike began on Feb. 21.

The seven-day strike was started because of the low pay, large class sizes, hours of work teachers in Oakland endured, and the school closing plan which aimed to close down 24 of the 86 schools in Oakland according to the OUSD. Actor, filmmaker, and Oakland native Rafael Casa expressed the closing plan to be a problem.

“It is a complete and outright assault on Oakland families — and above all else, they don’t even have to do it,” Casa said.

But it is not just Oakland natives who have shown their support for Oakland teachers through the strike, as teachers in the Peninsula also expressed their support for the strike.

“I do support the teachers because it is just as expensive to live in Oakland as it is here, but the teachers get paid so much less and have so many more students in their classes. California doesn’t give districts enough money. They pay districts $36 in terms of per-students funding, so you would think that California is a pretty rich state and we fund our schools amongst the highest, but we are very close to the bottom,” said Karyn Voldstad, a computer science teacher.

According to the OUSD, they had organized several meetings with the OEA (Oakland Education Association). And on March 1, during one of those meetings, the OEA and OUSD came to an agreement.

CBS News

“Today marks a sea change for OUSD as we take a major step in support of our teachers and students,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell.

Today marks a sea change for OUSD as we take a major step in support of our teachers and students.”

— Kyla Johnson-Trammel

The OUSD stated that the agreement with the OEA meant a contract which provides a total compensation increase of 14 percent — an 11 percent on-going salary increase with a one-time 3 percent bonus for educators. The agreement will also cause for class size reduction along with shorter hours of work for the Oakland teachers. Johnson-Trammel stated that this contract will be the first step toward compensation for chronic underinvestment in the educational department.

“We cannot fix decades of chronic underinvestment in education with a single contract, but this is an important first step. We look forward to working together, directing the passion and energy that we saw during the strike into a collective effort to increase state funding and build the schools our students deserve. In this, we are united,” Johnson-Trammel said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email