FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oakland – Backed by supportive parents and labor and community leaders, Oakland Education Association President Ben Visnick this morning announced that teachers will hold a one-day “Strike for Quality Schools” on April 20 if slowing contract talks with the school district don’t lead to a fair settlement.
In a news conference at OEA headquarters, Visnick also announced that hundreds of educators and community members are expected to mass against the state-run school district and State Administrator Randolph Ward at a rally set for 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, at Oakland City Hall.
“The future of quality public education in Oakland is what this contract fight is really about,” Visnick said. “Without a fair contract that includes the classroom improvements we are pushing for, teachers will continue to leave the district and students will continue to suffer. Our schools are at a crossroads and we will strike to protect them if negotiations are not completed soon.”
The 3,200 educators represented by OEA serve the 44,000 students in the Oakland Unified School District, the second-largest district in the Bay Area.
Fed up with the frustrating pace of contract talks, which have lasted two years, Oakland teachers voted overwhelmingly on March 22 to authorize their union’s Executive Board to launch job actions up to and including a strike.
Some progress has been made on salaries. But major concerns about the district’s health benefits proposal remain, as teachers fear it would lead to erosion of their earning power. Oakland teachers are already among the lowest-paid in the Bay Area. Only minor progress has been made on other key OEA issues such as protecting teachers from involuntary transfers, gaining elementary teacher classroom preparation time, securing enrichment courses, preventing school counselor reductions, and improving compensation for substitute teachers.