OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — The fight over school closures and mergers in Oakland continues – this time with the teacher’s union organizing a strike.

Educators plan on picketing Friday morning. However the Oakland Unified School District superintendent is calling this decision illegal.

Teachers and staff of Oakland schools will be picketing in front of school sites Friday starting at 6:30am. The teachers plan on voicing their opinion over school closures instead of being in class with students.

The Oakland Education Association took to twitter posting their plan for a teacher’s strike on Friday.
Union president Keith Brown says school closures is a racist move.

“Closing schools disproportionally harms Black students, so we are taking on a fight that is a civil rights fight,” Brown said.

The district plans on merging and closing schools, starting in June to avoid budget shortfalls and improve the quality of education.

In a letter to Brown, OUSD superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell demanded a cease and desist from moving forward with the Teachers strike stating:

“Any strike, other withholding of unit member services, or other concerted activity that disrupts the education of District students would be unlawful and an unfair labor practice, a violation of the current collective bargaining agreement between the District and OEA.”

In contrast, Brown says the strike is legal because OUSD is violating an agreement that was made by the district and union after a seven-day strike in 2019.

“An agreement that there must be a year of engagement before closing schools which the district has violated,” Brown added.

Johnson-Trammell’s letter goes on to say that a strike will hurt the district financially and impact students losing out on another day of in-person learning.

Gregorio Gutierrez who teaches sixth and seventh grade at Westlake Middle School says he plans on taking part in the strike. He also plans on picketing at the Port of Oakland Friday afternoon to try to shut down operations there.

“In order to bring about that economic impact on the city and to open people’s eyes to the fact that not only is this unjust, but it’s bigger than just Oakland,” Guiterrez said.

A spokesperson from the Port Oakland says the port is aware of the picket and supports free speech. However they stated:

“So many jobs depend upon the Port including truck operators, dock workers, construction workers, warehouse handlers, retailers and everyone all along the supply chain. Therefore, anything that hurts the Port, hurts local jobs.”

OUSD says it’s prepared to take legal action if the union proceeds with the teacher’s strike, including seeking an injunction the California Public Employment Relations Board.