OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Dozens of teachers from throughout the Oakland Unified School District marched from Oakland High school to City Hall on Monday, many who called out sick to take part.
“Teachers can’t live near the schools that they teach at, live near the students that they teach. It’s preposterous,” said history teacher Jesse Shapiro.
Working without a contract since 2017, the district has offered teachers a five-percent raise over the next five years. Meanwhile, the teachers have countered with a 12 percent raise, spread over three years.
“The district keeps saying that they don’t have the money to give us a meaningful raise,” said Emily Macy, who teaches 10th grade. “But we keep saying you have the money, it’s a matter of how they are prioritizing funding.
Teachers also want smaller class sizes.
Back at Oakland high, subs are running most of the classes Monday, and some students ditched class to join their teachers.
“We’ve had so many teachers who stay for one year and just leave, because they pay is just not high enough for them to survive,” said Kimberly Wong, a senior at Oakland High.
A spokesperson for the school district came to the demonstration and was surrounded. He said the sickout is illegal.
“We are still in negotiations, you cannot do something like this,” said spokesperson John Sasaki.
He said the district is considering punishment. “There is potential for disciplinary action of these teachers and a potential for loss of pay,” Sasaki said.
Macy said, “It’s a hit that we’re willing to take. We’re here for Oakland students.”
Teachers say the hope the one-day sickout amps up the pressure, but if no contract agreement is reached soon, they’re prepared to go on strike.
“It’s a crisis right now and it’s time for teachers to stand up and defend ourselves and our students,” Shapiro said.
Following Monday’s labor action, which was not endorsed by the union, the teachers plan to return to class on Tuesday.