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By Elizabeth Barcelos and Gabriella Landeros

After seven days on the picket lines that grew as the strike went on, the Oakland Education Association (OEA) reached a tentative agreement and will be returning to the classroom. In addition to substantial wage increases for teachers and other educators, the Oakland Unified School District and OEA reached agreement on OEA’s Common Good proposals including assistance to unhoused students, shared governance, and more resources for historically Black schools.

The tentative agreement reached over the weekend will boost wages for Oakland’s teachers and other educators who were the lowest-paid educators in the Bay Area. An EdSource analysis also found that Oakland teachers, up until now, were among the lowest-paid mid-career teachers statewide.

Common Good goals, including assistance to unhoused students, shared governance, and more resources for historically Black Thriving Community Schools (schools with 40 percent or more Black students) were approved. The tentative agreement calls for more school librarians, guidance counselors and school nurses. For the first time, the District will employ guidance counselors at the elementary school level.

Highlights of the tentative agreement and Common Good goals are posted on the OEA bargaining website. More detailed proposals will be distributed to OEA members and a ratification vote in the coming week.

OEA and OUSD began negotiations for a new contract in October of last year. The last contract expired in March. After months of refusing to discuss Common Good proposals across the bargaining table, OEA went on strike on May 4 in order to compel the district to work with its frontline educators on improving students’ learning conditions.

“The strike wasn’t just about teachers being able to earn enough to put a roof over their head in high-priced Oakland,” said OEA President Ismael Armendariz. “The strike was also about students and their families having a roof over their heads and a more holistic approach to meeting our students’ needs. In a similar vein, this tentative agreement is about a teacher being able to put bread on their table and it is also about feeding young minds. It’s about more than a paycheck, it’s about the common good.”

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