Oakland Teachers End Week-Long Strike With Raises

In this Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 photo, teachers, students and supporters rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall in Oakland, Calif. School leaders and teachers in Oakland have reached a tentative deal to end a week-long strike. The school district said Friday, March 1, 2019, that teachers will receive an 11 percent salary increase plus a one-time 3 percent bonus. Oakland’s 3,000 teachers walked off the job Feb. 21 to demand higher pay, smaller class sizes and more school resources. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – The teachers and school nurses in Oakland, California, reached an agreement with the school district Friday, ending a week-long walkout with an 11 percent raise and one-time 3 percent bonus.

“In spite of an employer who has said the sky is falling, that they could not pay for a living wage, that they could not pay for lower class sizes, educators – supported by parents, supported by labor, supported by the community – prevailed,” Oakland Education Association president Keith Brown said at a news conference Friday evening. “Our power in the streets prevailed. Our love for our students prevailed. Our determination for a better future for the students of Oakland prevailed.”

The 3,000 union members had 24 hours to review the contract, and voted to ratify it Sunday.

Friday’s deal also includes smaller class sizes at high-needs schools for the next school year and across all schools in the 2021-2022 school year; more counselors, school psychologists and speech pathologists; and bonuses and a new salary schedule to boost nurse recruitment, according to union leaders.

The union had asked for a 12 percent retroactive raise covering 2017 to 2020, citing the fact that Oakland teachers are among the lowest paid in the San Francisco Bay Area. The starting salary for a teacher in the district is $46,500 a year; average salaries top out at $63,000 a year.

Additionally, the union had the district halt plans to close 24 under-performing schools, arguing the district could lose up to $57,000 in funding to charter schools. Brown said Friday that school board president Aimee Eng has instead agreed to introduce resolutions calling for a five-month moratorium on school closures and consolidations and for a moratorium on new charter schools.

“This is a very significant win because of the power of our strike,” Brown said.

School superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell had no immediate comment Friday evening.

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