California Educator

February / March 2019

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Page 44 of 71

Oakland: Educators Authorize Strike Oakland educators are ready to walk off the job and onto the picket line. The Oakland Education Association announced Feb. 4 that OEA members had voted by 95 percent to authorize a strike, with 84 percent of members casting ballots. The announcement came after a fruitless two-day fact-finding session, during which OEA called Oakland Unified School District's management of Oakland public schools "educational malpractice." The vote allows OEA leaders to call a strike if necessary, to win smaller class sizes, a living wage for educators, and additional support resources that students need — including more counsel- ors and school nurses for the district's 37,000 students. "This is a clear message that our members are ready to fight for the schools our students deserve," says OEA President Keith Brown. "This powerful vote is a mandate for smaller class size, more student support, and a living wage. It is a mandate to keep our neighborhood schools open and not shut down our schools." Oakland educators will now wait for the nonbinding fact-finding report, which at press time was expected Feb. 15, the same day as a #RedForEd Statewide Day of Action in support of OEA. After the report is issued, OEA, which represents 3,000 educators in OUSD, can legally strike. Oakland educators have been working without a contract since July 2017, and seven sessions with a state mediator were unproductive. Brown says that without a serious proposal by OUSD, OEA will take action "instead of watching 600 teachers leave OUSD year after year." Oakland educators are fighting to end the district's teacher retention crisis. Over the past 12 years, an aver- age of 18.7 percent of Oakland teachers have left the district every year. Starting pay for beginning Oakland teachers is about $46,000, while the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Oakland is $3,191. Meanwhile, OUSD spends nearly double the state average on administrators' salaries. Visit for the latest information. OEA President Keith Brown speaks at a press conference. Photo: Mike Myslinski 43 F E B R U A R Y / M A R C H 2 019

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