Progress was made Tuesday at the bargaining table between Oakland public school teachers and the school district ahead of a possible strike by the teachers later this week.
Teachers plan to strike Thursday unless they can come to an agreement with the Oakland Unified School District beforehand, Oakland Education Association leaders at a news conference Monday. The strike would affect 35,000 K-12 students.
Oakland Unified and the teachers union have been in negotiations since October over a number of issues including increased pay, campus safety and reduced class sizes.
Union leaders claim district officials have come to negotiations unprepared and that they are not bargaining in good faith. The union is striking over the district’s unfair labor practices, said President Ismael Armendariz.
“We don’t want to strike,” said union bargaining team member Wally Scott in a Twitter post Monday. “But if striking is going to make our schools more safe and more just for vulnerable populations, we will.”
District officials said they are disappointed with the decision teachers have made but are optimistic an agreement will be reached before Thursday. The district is proposing that every teacher get a raise of at least 13 percent and as much as 22 percent.
“We agree teachers deserve a significant raise,” district officials said in a statement Tuesday.
Raises for all members of the Oakland Education Association, which is the teachers’ union, are on the table, according to the school district. The union includes nurses, counselors, psychologists and other professionals as well as teachers.
Compensation is not the only priority for some teachers. The union is bargaining for supports for students such as the placement of counselors at schools that have none and better air quality. Better air quality could come in the form of better heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. Union officials want any supports for students to be codified in any agreement between the teachers and the district.
Union officials said Tuesday that in six months of bargaining they had not seen any written offer from the school district until Monday. Consequently, it’s been unclear to union officials what the district is offering in terms of salary increases. Union negotiators are willing to bargain overnight Tuesday if needed.