The Oakland Education Association — the union representing teachers in Oakland, California — has overwhelmingly voted to strike.
According to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Kimberly Veklerov, Oakland teachers expect their strike to take place near the end of February. The strike vote was 95 percent in favor, five percent against. And 84 percent of Oakland teachers turned up for the vote, which is apparently a turnout rate three times as high as the previous strike vote.
Results of Oakland teachers’ strike authorization vote:
84% turnout (3X higher than last vote)
Union leaders expect to be on strike by end of month. pic.twitter.com/7C7JDxRm3A
— Kimberly Veklerov (@KVeklerov) February 5, 2019
According to ABC 7 News in San Francisco, teachers in Oakland are striking for better pay and smaller class sizes, in order to better accommodate students who need one-on-one tutoring in classrooms. The strike vote comes prior to a fact-finding report that’s expected in mid-February that addresses teachers’ concerns, as well as the school district’s financial concerns.
While teachers are calling for a 12 percent raise over the next three years, the school district has only offered five percent, arguing that it’s contending with a $30 million budget deficit and the possibility of having to close some schools. A strike toolkit from the Oakland Education Association describes the strike as an effort to “win the schools Oakland students deserve.”
“Let [students] know that, while you care about them very much, it may be necessary to temporarily stop working to protect your rights, and fight for better schools for students,” the toolkit reads. “We must remember that we are in this struggle for our students.”
Students appear to be on the side of the teachers. On Friday, students at Oakland Tech High School walked out of class in solidarity with teachers, saying that they should be able to earn enough to live in the communities where they work.
The upcoming strike in Oakland comes on the heels of a successful strike by teachers in Los Angeles, California, who shut down the district for several days demanding better pay, smaller class sizes, and a stop to the practice of diverting funds for public schools to private, for-profit charter schools. In addition to winning better pay, teachers also succeeded in getting the Los Angeles Board of Education to demand the California legislature impose a moratorium on new charter schools.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.