A person supporting the Oakland teachers' strike holds a sign that reads "on strike" on a picket line at Oakland Technical High School.
A supporter of the OEA strike holds a sign on the picket line at Oakland Tech on Thursday, May 4, 2023. Credit: Amir Aziz

Oakland Unified School District teachers continued to strike on Friday, with contract negotiations between their union and the district at an impasse and uncertainty over when the two sides will return to the bargaining table. 

The Oakland Education Association, which represents roughly 3,000 teachers and other education professionals such as counselors, nurses, and social workers, began striking on Thursday in response to what it claims are unfair labor practices and bad faith bargaining by OUSD. The union and school district have been negotiating a new contract since last October, which is when the previous contract expired. 

On Friday morning, OEA released a statement saying that the union is prepared to resume bargaining and repeated its claim that OUSD administrators and school board members are the ones holding up the process. 

“OUSD administration and school board are missing in action, just as they have been absent for much of the past six months,” said OEA Interim President Ismael Armendariz in the statement. “It’s time for the school board to show some leadership.”

Teachers and their supporters began forming picket lines at district schools at 7:30 a.m. OEA is also planning to stage a rally with teachers, parents, and students at 12 p.m. at United for Success Academy at 2101 35th Ave. then march to Josie de la Cruz Park on Fruitvale Avenue at 1 p.m.

The school district issued its own statement on Thursday night, expressing disappointment in the union’s decision to continue striking despite what it described as “an unprecedented compensation offer” for Oakland educators that would “put payouts ranging from more than $8,700 to nearly $12,000 in the paychecks of OEA members this month.” 

OEA has asked for salary increases of roughly 23% for its members, which it says would put OUSD in line with median salaries at other school districts in Alameda County. Both OEA and OUSD have made their contract proposals publicly available.

OUSD’s statement on Thursday also asserted that contract talks stalled after the union “shifted” its focus from salary increases to a “common good” proposal that includes things like more funding for student transportation, housing, and the district’s historically Black schools. The common good demands also include a guarantee that schools will not be closed prior to having one year of community engagement. 

“The issues raised in OEA’s Common Good proposal are important and complex. Some—such as ending student homelessness—require outside partnership. Others—such as providing transportation for all students—require funding beyond what the District can support,” read the statement. “While we agree that the issues raised in the Common Good proposal are important, this discussion should not hold up an agreement on significant pay increases for our OEA employees.”

Oakland teachers are expected to resume their strike on Monday morning unless an agreement with the district is reached.

Jacob Simas is Managing Editor of The Oaklandside. He joined us from Univision, where he led social-impact initiatives and established the Rise Up: Be Heard journalism training program at Fusion for young people and community organizers in underserved areas of California. He was a senior editor and director of youth and community media at New America Media, where he led a community news network that amplified student and youth reporting in California news deserts. He is an advisory board member for Youth Beat, a graduate of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and a former producer with KPFA's First Voice apprenticeship program.