Working with our teachers’ union to end the current strike is our top priority and we are disappointed to inform our community that it appears the strike will extend into Monday because the Oakland Education Association (OEA) has walked away from the weekend’s negotiations. As a reminder, all District-run schools are open and prepared to receive students on Monday.
Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) continues to support OEA’s larger goals of increased compensation for our dedicated teachers and more resources to support students. We agree that educators are undervalued, deserve more pay, and that this is a challenge across the country. But the fact remains that OEA’s immovable proposal is not a financially sound option for the District.
OUSD Says It’s Willing To Change Position On Salary and Class Size
The District has been willing to move its position on salary and class size, in addition to other compromises in order to reach an agreement. In terms of a guaranteed ongoing salary increase to OEA members, our current offer of a guaranteed 7 percent ongoing (over three years) with a 1.5% bonus exceeds the offer recommended by a neutral Fact-finder, who was brought in to help the two sides reach common ground. OUSD is negotiating in good faith with a sincere desire to reach an agreement. OEA’s demand for 12 percent over three years has not changed since May 2018.
OEA and the OUSD Bargaining Team met for a full day on Friday, February 22 without reaching a resolution. OEA submitted that same package of proposals from May 2018, including an additional proposal that actually increases the financial impact of the OEA proposal on the District. OEA then cancelled a bargaining session scheduled for Saturday, February 23.
Today, the bargaining teams were scheduled for a full-day session in an effort to reach a compromise to end the strike, but the session ended after about one hour because the teachers’ union said they were not authorized to submit any additional proposals, and feel they have the support of their members and the families of OUSD to maintain their position and continue the strike.
The union’s current intractable position, in addition to the cancellation and early termination of bargaining sessions, is impeding the process of reaching an agreement and getting students back into our classrooms.
OUSD Has Moved Significantly Toward OEA’s Position
OUSD has moved significantly toward OEA’s position and is committed to reducing office staff and services to schools to fund our packaged proposal. However, the District is not in a financial position to accept OEA’s current salary demands.
“We support our OEA members and are doing everything we can to give them a contract that provides them with a livable wage to help them thrive in Oakland. But these are very tight financial times for OUSD. Everyone knows we have a structural budget deficit, including the Fact-finding Committee, the Alameda County Office of Education and the State Department of Education,” said OUSD Board President Aimee Eng. “While we want to give the teachers all that they ask for, our financial limitations prevent us from doing that.”
That position is supported by Fiscal Oversight Trustee, Chris Learned, who issued the following statement on Sunday: “Under my authority as the Fiscal Oversight Trustee for OUSD, I will stay and/or rescind any agreement that would put the District in financial distress. A 12% salary increase would do just that. What the District has on the table now is what the District can afford.”
This strike must end. Our students are losing valuable days of instruction. We want to bring our teachers, psychologists, counselors, nurses, substitute teachers, speech and language pathologists, and resource specialists back to serving students and our students back to learning.
The District remains focused on reaching an agreement with OEA, and is ready to bargain at any time. We are hopeful that OEA will return to negotiations prepared to work with us on an agreement that gets us back to the business of teaching and learning in Oakland for the sake of our students and our entire community.
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