(KRON) — Teachers in Oakland will hold a strike Friday over what they call bad faith bargaining by the Oakland School District. It’s being called the “Wildcat Strike” by teachers and is not union approved. But teachers say it’s happening because, for months, the Oakland Unified School District has been canceling contract negotiation meetings and holding up the conversation of better pay and learning conditions.
Teachers in the strike plan to call out sick Friday and say it’s because they’re opposed to school mergers and workers that are being cut in other unions across the district. According to a news release, the school board eliminated essential positions including support for students, academic systems, special education, language programs and case management.
“Such a surgical attack on kids’ education. You are taking out the professional in the room with the kids who need the most help,” Oakland teacher Karley Poston told KRON4. “Never mind, the coordinators of coordinators making $125,000 a year downtown in the district office, no let’s take out the paraprofessional making $20 an hour who’s helping that kid read.”
Picketing will begin at 7:30 a.m. in front of both Oakland and Skyline high schools and the United for Success and Life academies. They will rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall, then plan march to Oakland Unified School District Headquarters on Broadway.
Teachers say the contract ended in October. The association asked for about a 23-percent pay raise, which they say would make their salaries competitive with other Bay Area districts.
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Earlier this week, Los Angeles Unified School District workers held a similar strike for similar issues, which caused hundreds of schools to close for days.
“This is a much bigger fight,” Poston said. “This is a fight over the fact that OUSD thinks it can just slash dozens of positions, student support positions; kind of a classic have and have nots situation. And it’s time that we all get to have.”
OUSD officials issued the following statement in response to the teachers’ actions:
“Some members of the Oakland Education Association (OEA) decided to hold a one-day strike on Friday, March 24 at a number of middle and high schools across Oakland Unified School District. The Oakland Education Association (OEA) stated, in writing, that this strike was not sanctioned by OEA. The District kept all schools open, and students were encouraged to attend classes. Unfortunately, the action did keep students out of school, and adversely impacted student access to instruction at some schools. The District will continue to negotiate in good faith with OEA.”