Oakland Teachers Rally

Doug Sovern/KCBS Radio

Oakland Teachers Step Up Protests, Move Closer To Strike

Doug Sovern
December 12, 2018 - 11:21 am

OAKLAND — Public school teachers in Oakland took another step closer to walking off the job and onto picket lines.

They've been protesting this week over demands for higher salaries and smaller classes. Hundreds of teachers stationed themselves at five street corners around the city, waving signs and chanting on Tuesday afternoon. They called it "an hour of power."

The teachers have been working without a contract for 18 months, and are now taking their demands to a more public arena in a bid to pressure the Oakland Unified School District to come to the table. 

"We are willing to fight, and of course a strike is a last resort," said Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown. "But it's something that educators in Oakland are willing to do if necessary." 

A strike, if it happens, wouldn't come until early 2019.

"We are currently in fact-finding in the district, and basically that process would probably be about thirty to forty days," said Brown. "After we're out of fact finding, the teachers of Oakland are strike legal." 

Teachers and the district remain far apart in their negotiations. Teachers are seeking a 12 percent raise over three years while the district countered with five percent. 

Raises would lead the district to cut money elsewhere, according to a spokesperson. 

"The question is how much can we pay, in addition to what we're already paying, and how we're going to get that money," said district spokesman John Sasaki. "If we give a one percent raise to our teachers, it's $2 million per year. That's $2 million we have to cut from elsewhere." 

Written by Diana Shook.