Hundreds Of Oakland Teachers Call In Sick To Protest

Matt Bigler
January 18, 2019 - 1:40 pm

OAKLAND —Hundreds of Oakland public school teachers didn't show up for work on Friday to stage a protest through the city streets that drew attention to their ongoing labor struggle with the school district's administration.

About 400 teachers, students and other supporters marched more than two miles from Oakland Technical High School to the administration's headquarters downtown. The so-called sick-out had been expected

Teacher Jah-Yee called in sick, but said she'd rather be in the classroom with her students. 

"We don't want to go on strike," she said. "Many of the teachers cannot afford it. This is to show what it would look like if we had to get to that point.

"A strike is a last resort," she added. Teachers have been raising the possiblity of a strike in recent months while staging similar walkouts

Because the teachers were unauthorized to leave work today, the district may hand down penalties. 

The teachers have been without a contract for more than a year. The impasse centers largely on raises. The teachers' union wants a 12 percent increase over three years and the district has offered five percent bumps. 

 "We still have to make budget cuts," said Oakland Unified School District spokesman John Sasaki, who told KCBS Radio that there's a financial crisis. "That is on top of any raise that the teachers get. This is going to be a very difficult year, but we're trying to do everything we can to make the teachers feel appreciated and valued." 

A hearing is scheduled for January 31st, after which an independent fact finding group will present its information to both sides.