Oakland teachers strike continues after contract talks break down

Contract negotiations between the Oakland Unified School District and Oakland Education Association, its teachers union, broke down on Sunday, meaning the teachers’ strike will continue Monday.

During a press conference Sunday, district officials said they were focused on reaching an agreement quickly and supporting the union’s members.

“Know that I speak for all of us when I say that we love and value our teachers, and we want to give them everything they are asking for,” said OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “However, we cannot afford to do so.”

Johnson-Tramell said the Oakland Education Association has not presented any new proposals during the negotiations.

OEA is asking for a 12 percent pay raise over three years. The district is offering an 8.5 percent increase over four years.

The bargaining team last met with OEA for a full day on Friday. They were scheduled to meet again on Saturday, but those talks were cancelled. On Sunday, the two sides met for about an hour before the negotiations broke down, according to Jenine Lindsey, the district’s director of labor strategy.

Lindsey could not say when the bargaining teams plan to meet again, but said the district was on standby to resume negotiations with OEA. There is a tentative plan to meet again Monday.

Though it is not “school as usual,” doors remain open for students to attend with substitutes taking over several classrooms, according to district officials.

“We do not want to abandon our families who actually need a safe place for their children to go,” Lindsey said.

The two sides have reached tentative agreements on the school year calendar allowing teachers to receive their paycheck in August instead of having to wait six weeks to get paid, Lindsey said. They are now focusing on monetary issues like a pay raise, smaller class sizes and hiring a nurse for every campus, according to district officials.

OEA is planning to release a statement Sunday at 6 p.m. on its Facebook page.

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