The Oakland teachers strike has reached its seventh day—the same length of time as the 2019 strike—with no indication from the Oakland Education Association or Oakland Unified School District that it could end soon.
Both sides have continued to meet each day this week, often going beyond midnight, but disagreements remain over compensation and a broader set of proposals not directly related to working conditions that the teachers union would like to see implemented.
Annie Xiong, a second grade teacher at Allendale Elementary School and member of the bargaining committee, said the teams have recently made progress on some of the union’s “common good” demands.
“After a very intense 16 days [of bargaining], I think we’ve come a lot closer to being on the same page and I’m very cautiously optimistic. We’ve made a lot of significant progress,” she said Friday morning. “We came to a conceptual agreement about how shared governance would happen and what that would encompass.”
OEA leaders also pushed back against a statement from the school district that fully implementing the union’s initial proposals would cost $1 billion.
“Our Common Good goals are largely about ensuring educators, parents, students and other stakeholders have a voice in the decision-making process,” said Kampala Taiz-Rancifer, vice president of OEA, in a statement from the union on Friday morning. “We also have proposed the addition of a small number of additional staff to support our most impacted community schools. We have no idea how OUSD came up with that ridiculous number.”
On Thursday, OUSD released a statement explaining why district leaders believe the common good demands, like establishing a committee to oversee the district’s community schools, or using vacant district facilities for housing, shouldn’t be in a collective bargaining agreement.
“Many of the common good proposal topics are essential. However, most are well beyond what OUSD can do alone. They need to be addressed through partnerships with local, federal, and state governments,” the statement said.
Outside of La Escuelita Elementary School on Wednesday, the teachers union held a rally in anticipation of a school board meeting that was canceled, but still had a message for the school board members to support OEA’s demands during Teacher Appreciation Week.
“Hey Mike [Hutchinson], hey Sam [Davis], hey Cliff [Thompson], we want living wages to recruit and retain teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. We want more mental health support for Teacher Appreciation Week. We want true shared governance of community schools by educators, by parents, and by students for Teacher Appreciation Week,” said Samia Khattab, a teacher librarian and member of the bargaining team.
Khattab added that 98% of OEA members have been on the picket line since the strike began. OEA members and supporters also memorialized Laura Rice-Hall, a substitute teacher and member of the OEA bargaining team who died this week.
“We are heartbroken at the loss of our sister. She was kind, loving, and a dedicated OEA leader at the table time and time again,” said OEA interim president Ismael Armendariz. “On behalf of our union we will continue to fight in her memory.”
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao also released a statement on Thursday urging the school district and the teachers union to work together to settle the strike, but otherwise not taking a stance on the unresolved issues.
“As mayor, I am committed to investing in community and school safety, affordable housing, and improved infrastructure, not only to attract teachers and families to Oakland, but to keep them here,” her statement said. “This commitment is a throughline in my proposed budget—but we must all work together to make this vision of One Oakland a reality. I encourage OUSD and OEA to come together and be part of this effort, addressing the challenges we face today and creating a strong foundation for our future generation of students and educators.”
On Friday, the union planned to picket at school sites from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and hold a march beginning at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater at 12:30 p.m.