Emboldened by the recent UTLA strike, the Oakland Education Association (OEA) is planning its own strike within the next two weeks. Once a strike vote has been passed, which could happen as soon as this coming Monday, Oakland teachers will abandon their classrooms and take to the streets.
Much like Los Angeles, the Oakland School District has been withering financially for nearly 20 years. The district has been criticized in the past by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) and an Alameda County Civil Grand Jury for its inability to properly manage its books.
To stay financially solvent, the district is currently looking at nearly $15 million in cuts. Which raises the question: What could the OEA realistically ask for?
Most importantly, OEA wants pay raises for all teachers. It wouldn’t be a teacher strike without a pay raise. Unlike UTLA, which demanded a 6.5 percent increase, OEA is going bigger by demanding a 12 percent hike over the next three years.
Aside from the obvious cash motivations, OEA has made it clear its membership rolls need padding in the wake of last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. The union is demanding the district hire additional teachers, nurses, counselors and other support staff — all of whom are expected to be dues-paying members in good standing of the union.
“But what about the kids?” you may be asking yourself.
OEA has made it crystal clear this strike isn’t about the students; it’s about its members.
Textbooks, equipment, supplemental learning opportunities for students falling behind, inviting enrichment activities, building maintenance, and support staff all are at risk when unions insist on grabbing an excessive share of finite resources. Unfortunately, the families benefitting from these kinds of services are not represented at the secret bargaining negotiation.
A strike not only disrupts important services children are supposed to be receiving, but damages a district’s ability to provide services in all future years. Whether OEA is ignorant of this fact or simply doesn’t care remains to be seen.
What we do know is that public worker unions are no fans of the effective use of taxpayer money.
OEA leaders have emphasized it’s not the students’ choice that’s important; it’s their ability to wring every conceivable dime out of the taxpayers.