OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Oakland’s public school teachers have approved a strike. The union voted to approve the move, which parents have petitioned against.

Parents KRON4 spoke with say they worry a strike will put a burden on their families and disrupt classes with just a few weeks left in the school year. But the teachers union says this may be a necessary step to ensure its members get paid what they’re worth.

Four-hundred parents signed a petition against the strike, but the teachers have decided they now have the power to go on with it if they choose to do so.

The interim president of the Oakland Education Association Ismael Amendariz says no progress has been made in negotiations, so teachers voted to authorize a strike. But he says if OUSD bargains in good faith and reaches an agreement they will avoid the strike.

Amendariz explains they have not been able to agree with the district about special education, safety and salary increases. He says teachers need higher wages to be able to afford to live where they work.

Before this point, teachers tried to raise their concerns by walking out of the classroom, picketing, protesting, and handing out leaflets.

“Currently we have made very little progress, which is why we’re at this point, unfortunately,” said Vilma Serrano, co-chair of the Oakland Education Association’s bargaining team. “The proposals are still not serious. Their compensation proposal essentially creates a two-tiered system within our own union, which is unacceptable. We want a compensation package that raises the salaries of all of our members instead of something that would pit us against each other.”

OUSD officials admit they can’t agree to all the teacher’s union’s demands. 

“It is imperative that OUSD teachers are paid higher salaries as compensation is critical to retention. OUSD’s proposed compensation package would mean teachers in Oakland will, for the first time in decades, be paid higher than the average salary for educators in our region,” OUSD said.

The teachers union said their previous proposal from the district excludes 66 percent of union members. It’s only for tenured teachers, so they refused to entertain it.