Oakland teacher contract talks: impasse ahead?

Below is the (copied and pasted) bulletin from the Oakland teachers union, based on today’s contract negotiations with district negotiators:

OEA Bargaining Update
District Gives OEA a “Package Proposal”—in the last 10 minutes of bargaining!

On June 3rd, the OEA Bargaining Team and our ECE Bargaining Consultants met to discuss Early Childhood Education issues with the District team. Ten minutes before the end of the last scheduled bargaining date this year, the District chose to hand us a 78-page “package proposal” containing all of their current proposals, asking us to reply to it as a package by June 11. The District has not changed any of its positions. The proposals still include a 3% pay cut, a possible cut in days of work that would cut pay even more, a health benefits cap that would cut pay on an annual basis, elimination of staffed elementary prep, changes for the worse in evaluation, removing seniority-based protection for consolidated and involuntarily transferred teachers, and much more.

The package proposal is clearly an attempt by the District to move toward declaring impasse in our negotiations. The OEA thinks that the attempt to declare impasse is premature. We are providing the District with a list of our proposals we have not yet had the opportunity to present, and of other areas where we intend to reply to their proposals. If the District is successful at getting a state mediator to declare our negotiations to be at impasse, mediation and fact-finding would normally follow, and would normally take at least several months—but these are not normal times. We will post any new developments over the summer on the OEA website, and through the Oakland Teachers list-serve.

The District’s current proposals (pay cuts, health care cap, no staffed prep, etc,) would be a disaster for the school district that would deeply compromise education for our students. We must make parents and community members aware of this!
•Call or write to our new superintendent and school board members expressing your concern. (phone, mail, and e-mail contacts are on the OUSD website)
•Arrange a house meeting through a supportive parent, a church or a community organization. (Call OEA to arrange a speaker and materials.)
•Pick up flyers at the OEA office and distribute them at community events.

Quality Public Education is a Civil Right!
OEA Bargaining Team: David de Leeuw (chair), Mark Airgood, Relena Ellis, Jack Gerson, Mary Loeser, Julie Palacios, Sonia Ramirez, Bob Mandel (for health care/HBIC), Nicole Love (OEA/CTA staff)

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • harlemmoon

    Here we go again!
    Three years ago, the wrangling on both sides had the effect of diminishing everybody.
    Please, let’s not repeat the debacle that was 2006. Both sides need to get in there, get it on and come out shaking hands – quickly.
    Note to Tony Smith: This can get ugly.

  • cranky teacher

    Some numbers for your consideration:

    There are 16 districts in Alameda County.
    In terms of salary + benefits, OUSD is ranked 15th for BA+30/Payroll Step 1 ($48K) and 16th for BA+60/Payroll Step 10 (63K).

    Since 2002, OUSD’s per-ADA funding has risen 21%.
    OUSD salary increase for the same period: <2%

    Annual turnover rate for teachers in OUSD: 15%

    Current district salary proposal: -3%

  • TheTruthHurts

    Katy, from what I hear, you need to do some digging. There is more to this story. Good luck.

  • Katy Murphy

    Care to elaborate? If you don’t feel comfortable posting, you can always send me an email. kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com

  • Oakland Teacher


    OUSD BA+30 Step 1(the point at which the average new teacher starts) = $39,775 NOT $48K as listed above.
    This is for a first year teacher with 30 units of graduate school (in some cases a Master’s degree). I wish it were $48,000. I have been teaching in OUSD for 5 years, have 3 credentials and a Master’s Degree and do not earn that much.

    Castro Valley pays approximately $48,000 for such a person, San Leandro pays $49,000, Berkeley pays $43,000, Piedmont pays $44,000, and San Lorenzo pays $45,000. I did not list some of the other districts with very high starting salaries because they have a different benefits package and comparison would be too complicated. Do you think OUSD teachers deserve less than $40,000?

    It is even worse when you compare teachers with more graduate credits and more years experience. Then the difference between annual teacher pay in OUSD and our neighboring school districts is $5000-15,000.

    Anyone who says the economy is tough and OUSD teachers should take cuts needs to ask whether they think Oakland students deserve less qualified teachers than students who live nearby. As an Oakland resident and parent, I do not accept that. As an OUSD teacher, I cannot accept that just because I teach here, I am worth less. I am highly qualified to do my job and love it. I want to teach in OUSD because it is my community. I am an exception. The result of low pay is a revolving door of teachers, who stay just long enough to decide they don’t like it or move on to greener pastures. OUSD has the highest turnover rate of any district in this area.

    Shame on the district team who put together this proposal!

  • aly

    oakland teacher: review cranky’s numbers. they are salary PLUS benefits. this is a very important distinction; many districts post that same formula on their salary schedules only for employees to find out they take home 10-12k less than is posted.

    we are most certainly underpaid, but when trying to compare between districts, please make sure you add it all up.

  • Gordon Danning

    Comparing salary + benefits across districts means nothing unless the contractual maximum class size is factored in.

    Also, complaints that “teachers haven’t gotten a raise” in XYZ years are misleading, since teachers advance on the salary schedule every year. For example, I am BA+90 and step 14 (I think), which under the current salary schedule = approx. $66,400. In 2002, even assuming the same salary schedule (and, hence “no raise”) I would have been on step 7, which is $55,800.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Mr. Danning:

    Not entirely accurate is the statement “… teachers advance on the salary schedule every year. Oakland’s salary schedule, and I am sure other district salary schedules, have years without advancement for accumulating experience. Oakland has a break without salary schedule advancement between 15 and 21 years. The break is again right after 21 and until 26. Then after 26 there is no more advancement.

    In negotiations comparing apples to apples in looking at surrounding districts competing for teachers is a given interest for both labor and administration. No matter how the salary schedule is sliced and diced the cost to the district is a bottom line number that may increase or decrease according to how many experienced teachers retire and are replaced with teach for awhile teachers and fully credentialed teachers at the bottom steps of the schedule.

    Once a teacher tops out advancing by experience steps, or college credit steps, inflation eats into their earnings. The state in normal times provides inflation factor to districts that can be negotiated with labor. Recent years the state administration has valued its concept of reform more than passing on the inflation factor to teachers. I believe it has been the relative smaller share of the inflation factor or cost of living increase (COLA) that has dropped Oakland in comparison to surrounding school district salary schedules.

    Jim Mordecai

    I have copied and pasted part of the Oakland K-12 teacher salary schedule that shows the break in salary increase due to experience.

    Periods: 10, Days/Year: 186, Days/Week: 5, Hours/Day: 6
    ANNUAL $49,796.31 $50,551.60 $51,317.53 $52,817.49 $54,328.08 $58,849.21
    MONTHLY $4,979.63 $5,055.16 $5,131.75 $5,281.75 $5,432.81 $5,884.92
    DAILY $267.72 $271.78 $275.91 $283.96 $292.08 $316.39
    HOURLY $44.62 $45.30 $45.98 $47.32 $48.68 $52.74
    ANNUAL $51,317.53 $52,062.19 $52,817.49 $54,328.08 $55,828.03 $60,359.80
    MONTHLY $5,131.75 $5,206.22 $5,281.75 $5,432.81 $5,582.80 $6,035.98
    DAILY $275.91 $279.90 $283.96 $292.08 $300.15 $324.51
    HOURLY $45.98 $46.65 $47.32 $48.68 $50.02 $54.09
    ANNUAL $52,817.49 $53,572.78 $54,328.08 $55,828.03 $57,349.26 $61,881.03
    MONTHLY $5,281.75 $5,357.28 $5,432.81 $5,582.80 $5,734.93 $6,188.10
    DAILY $283.96 $288.02 $292.08 $300.15 $308.33 $332.69
    HOURLY $47.32 $48.01 $48.68 $50.02 $51.38 $55.45
    ANNUAL $54,328.08 $55,072.74 $55,828.03 $57,349.26 $58,849.21 $63,380.98
    MONTHLY $5,432.81 $5,507.27 $5,582.80 $5,734.93 $5,884.92 $6,338.10
    DAILY $292.08 $296.09 $300.15 $308.33 $316.39 $340.76
    HOURLY $48.68 $49.35 $50.02 $51.38 $52.74 $56.80
    ANNUAL $54,328.08 $55,072.74 $55,828.03 $58,849.21 $60,359.80 $64,891.57
    MONTHLY $5,432.81 $5,507.27 $5,582.80 $5,884.92 $6,035.98 $6,489.16
    DAILY $292.08 $296.09 $300.15 $316.39 $324.51 $348.88
    HOURLY $48.68 $49.35 $50.02 $52.74 $54.09 $58.15
    ANNUAL $54,328.08 $55,072.74 $55,828.03 $58,849.21 $61,881.03 $66,402.16
    MONTHLY $5,432.81 $5,507.27 $5,582.80 $5,884.92 $6,188.10 $6,640.22
    DAILY $292.08 $296.09 $300.15 $316.39 $332.69 $357.00
    HOURLY $48.68 $49.35 $50.02 $52.74 $55.45 $59.50
    ANNUAL $54,328.08 $55,072.74 $55,828.03 $58,849.21 $61,881.03 $67,912.75
    MONTHLY $5,432.81 $5,507.27 $5,582.80 $5,884.92 $6,188.10 $6,791.27
    DAILY $292.08 $296.09 $300.15 $316.39 $332.69 $365.12
    HOURLY $48.68 $49.35 $50.02 $52.74 $55.45 $60.86
    ANNUAL $55,828.03 $56,593.96 $57,349.26 $60,359.80 $63,380.98 $69,412.71
    MONTHLY $5,582.80 $5,659.40 $5,734.93 $6,035.98 $6,338.10 $6,941.27
    DAILY $300.15 $304.27 $308.33 $324.51 $340.76 $373.19
    HOURLY $50.02 $50.71 $51.38 $54.09 $56.80 $62.20
    ANNUAL $57,349.26 $58,093.92 $58,849.21 $61,881.03 $64,891.57 $70,933.93
    MONTHLY $5,734.93 $5,809.40 $5,884.92 $6,188.10 $6,489.16 $7,093.39
    DAILY $308.33 $312.33 $316.39 $332.69 $348.88 $381.37
    HOURLY $51.38 $52.06 $52.74 $55.45 $58.15 $63.56

  • turner

    Mr. Danning,

    A teacher shapes the future life of a child. Does $55,800 seem adequate to you for that kind of responsibility?

    Teachers have been so woefully underpaid for such a long time that we have come to see it as normal.


  • Small Town Kid

    Turner, et al –

    I don’t think anyone argues that teachers should be paid more than they are. But the State, due to its lack of money, is cutting the amount given to the schools for next year. Which would you prefer – not give raises (and maybe cut pay) or give a small raise and layoff teachers (and get rid of class-size reduction)? There aren’t any other choices…..

  • Oakland Teacher

    My question is: How will other districts manage to still pay teachers higher than OUSD? They receive the same or less per pupil than we do. Running a larger district (like OUSD) should be more cost effective than similar but smaller districts.

    Why do we always say that Oakland children/teachers deserve less? How is OUSD going to have more than a migrant labor force if they create an even larger disparity between OUSD and other districts’ teacher pay?

    BA+90 is the equivalent of a PhD. Not many people with that much education think that 56k annual salary after working for 7 years is adequate. While Mr Danning appears to think so, he is quite unusual. But we are also looking a beginning teacher salaries, which are not enough to retain good teachers.

  • Nextset

    Teacher pay is a reflection of the value placed on the students.

    OUSD teachers are wrong if they believe they are going to get pay increases. Pay Cuts, more likely.

  • Small Town Kid

    Oakland Teacher – I don’t know the comparative figures for OUSD and other local districts – can anyone provide them? – but I believe that OUSD’s ADA per student is about average in Alameda/Contra Costa County. The OUSD administration has a reputation for being inefficient….

    BA+90 is the equivalent in class hours to a PhD. I’m not sure you’d get many PhD’s to agree that it’s fully equivalent…but I agree that teachers should be paid more. The State just doesn’t have the money to pay teachers more this year when they are cutting K-12 education by several billion dollars at the end of the school year.

    Do not expect a raise this year and be thankful if you don’t end up with pay cuts (and do have a job). The State government is in real fiscal trouble and there is no one to bail us out.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Something unthinkable has happened. I agree with Nextset’s posting #12.

    That is as honest an explanation of why Oakland pays its teachers less than neighboring districts as any I have ever heard. And that is my point exactly. Why do we value our kids less? I look at the faces of my students, as see them as just as deserving as those in Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Ramon, San Leandro or Berkeley.

    If OUSD teachers accept a cut and the community supports it, saying “There is not enough money to pay teachers”, we will confirm that Nextset is correct.

  • turner

    Small town kid,

    The state having no money is just an excuse. When the state had money, OUSD teachers were still were still paid lower than many of their counterparts in the county. How is it other districts can pay their teachers more?

    Don’t blame the state for OUSD’s woes. It’s bad management that is the cause of this problem. I’m sure if we dug deeper, we would see that OUSD spends much more on administrative and executive costs than the other districts.


  • turner

    nextset at #12: couldn’t have said it any better. well said.


  • Nextset

    And I’m afraid the contempt with which OUSD regards it’s students can be seen in filthy bathrooms, bad books, poor hiring & recruiting and everywhere else you look. The OUSD educational policy is intended to keep the kiddies on the bottom of the socioeconomic register too, but to pacify them so you don’t have any demonstrations or upsets while this is done to them.

    Sweet tasting poison – like putting out anti-freeze for the puppies.

    You can see the parade of inane principals in all this for what it is. Pacification for the lower class families (See, we got a principal just for you – be quiet!).

    Even if money is provided the staff isn’t going to see any. A high priced staff might rock the boat, better a mediocre staff. Low pay keeps it mediocre.

    I’m afraid the only future here is in the Charters. Maybe the Teacher’s Union should start a Charter as a demonstration of power.

    Remember, when too many people on this blog start agreeing with me we are really in trouble!!

  • Small Town Kid

    Turner – I partially agreed with you and Nextset – OUSD does a poor job of managing their money and they probably (I don’t have the figures) spend a lot on administration.

    However, we’re also in the perfect fiscal storm and Arnie is looking for any spare money to take care of his $24 billion deficit. So for this year, there really is no money.

  • ex-ousd staff

    Nextset just came up with a simple and brilliant explantion for why OUSD is the way it is. This statement is a one sentence summary of all the voices contributing to these Oakland school forums:

    “And I’m afraid the contempt with which OUSD regards it’s students can be seen in filthy bathrooms, bad books, poor hiring & recruiting and everywhere else you look.”

    This statement corresponds to my years working for the OUSD in that it places the nexus of the problem at 1025 Second Avenue.

  • Follow the Money

    Small Town Teacher

    In 2007-08, only 3 out of 17 school districts in Alameda County received more total revenues per student. 13 out of 17 spent more per student on certificated salaries. Oakland’s average salary for teachers was in 17th place (last) in the county. The next lowest district (Emery) paid an average salary of $7,000 more; the highest (Pleasanton) paid $27,000 more. This range greatly exceeds any differences in benefits.

    All data is from http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us. I’m sending Katy an Excel file right now.

  • Oakland Teacher

    A quick interpretation of #20:

    OUSD receives more money per pupil than most districts, but spends less money on teacher salaries than all districts.

    Regardless of which side of the blog debates you sit on, that fact is not disputable. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would think teachers in Oakland deserve less per pupil than other districts.

  • turner

    That’s right, Oakland teacher! And then the board and administration blame the state for the problem. This problem was there long before the state ever took over the district.

    There’s just no value placed on the students of OUSD and there’s just no respect given to the teachers of OUSD. These are the two most important groups in the district. Yet, they always get the short end of the stick.


  • Catherine

    Let’s suppose that $50 million spent on consultants was spent on classroom teachers instead. How much would that be per teacher, assume that the lowest paid would get double the increase in dollars as the teachers in step 5 or above. That would still leave about $29 million for consultants.

    Not really sure of the number of teachers and the number at the lower steps. It could be a start.

  • Pingback: A future Oakland teacher, waiting for placement - The Education Report - Reporter Katy Murphy’s blog on Oakland schools()

  • Paul

    Similar debates around teacher pay/contract are occurring in urban districts across the U.S. So it’s not just in Oakland where teachers feel they get underpaid/undervalued. This really is about our priorities as a nation, which has been influenced by the way our educational system came to be. It’s hard to read many of these comments because for the most part they could have been written 10, 20 years ago.

    Unions need to be less rigid and be willing accept certain concessions. At the same time district officials need to accept and trust that unions are capable of looking out for the welfare of their members while also wanting the best for students.

    If education leaders continue to hold on to certain long-held beliefs then this cyclical cycle will not stop.

  • Gordon Danning

    And yet, if you go here: http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us, go to Oakland USD, and select “Financial Report for District” and then “General Fund,” it states that OUSD spends: 105% of the statewide average on certificated salaries, 126% of the statewide average on classified salaries, and 130% of the statewide average on employee benefits.

    Look, I teach in Oakland. Would I like to make more money? Sure. Would giving me a raise be the best way to serve student needs? Not necessarily.

    Moreover, Oakland gets more federal money than any other district in the county, but that money can not be spent on giving teachers raises. It just can’t. The same is true of most, if not all, of the “other state revenue” that Oakland gets.

    As it happens, according to Ed-Data, Oakland gets $5000 per pupil from those two sources. The only other districts in that league are Albany and Castro Valley; none of the others are even close. And, Albany and Castro Valley pay about the same in certificated salary as does Oakland, or less: Albany: 4646, CV 4240, Oakland 4538 (and Oakland pays more in benefits).

    So I think it is facile to assume that the data indicates that “Oakland doesn’t value teachers.”

  • Follow the Money


    The same data you just looked at also says that Oakland receives 135% of the state average per student in total revenues(For many reasons, starting with Measure E). Proportionately, it is spending less of the money it receives on teachers and much more than average on consultants. That’s a very direct and sizeable statement about who gets a higher priority of value than teachers.

    Castro Valley ($65 G) and Albany ($64G) do NOT have average teacher salaries in this chart as low as Oakland ($54G).

    Large chunks of federal and other state money are either unrestricted (over $25 million) or different types of restricted money which does end up going to pay for teachers (class size reduction, special ed, categorical depending on the actual category, etc.)

  • Follow the Money

    To be accurate, in my last statement, I should have said different types of restricted money could end up going in part not in whole to pay for teachers. But those parts with that potential add up to a lot. It’s a venerable myth that “most if not all” federal and other state funds cannot be spent upon actual teaching.

  • turner


    OUSD received $6,119 per student, not $5,000, for 2008-09 and $5,790 for 2007-08.

    “Certificated” includes a broad group of people many of who are teachers but also include the state administrator, superintendent, executive officers, several directors involved in curriculum development and execution. Don’t assume it is teachers only.

    The data is clear. OUSD teachers are paid less than their counterparts elsewhere in the county. If teachers and students were valued in Oakland, there would be less money spent on non-instructional issues and items and more spent on the students, their needs and the people who educate them.


  • cranky teacher

    “Look, I teach in Oakland. Would I like to make more money? Sure. Would giving me a raise be the best way to serve student needs? Not necessarily.”

    Hmmn, we could argue about the “best way” all day. But if we say teachers are important, than recruiting and retaining the good ones becomes paramount, and salary comes into that. Of course, teachers stay or leave for other reasons besides money, but it is a real factor — psychologically and re: the bottome line.

    Or do you think teachers are interchangeable widgets?

  • Gordon Danning

    Follow The Money: Restricted money can be used to hire MORE teachers – Oakland High does just that with most of its restricted funds. But it cannot be used to increase pay of EXISTING teachers. Also, most decisions re: how to spend money is made at school sites by School Site Councils, not downtown.

    Turner: In 2007-2008, Oakland got $1516 per student from the Feds and $3476 from “Other State Revenue.” That totals just shy of $5000

    Also, I was trying to point out that teacher compensation does not mean just teacher salaries.

    Finally, at least some of the non-teaching certificated staff do, in fact, increase student achievement. Eg: Shelly Weintraub and Stan Pesick, in Social Studies.

  • turner

    I don’t know which district you are talking about. In OUSD, the final decision on how to allocate the revenue that comes in is made at the Central Office. The School Site Council is not as powerful as you would think. They may decide how to spend non-payroll funds but they do not decide how much teachers or staff are to be paid.

    I also don’t kknow where you are getting your numbers. If you look at the revenue calculation for the district, which is their main source of income, you will see that 2007-08 saw OUSD receive $5,790 per pupil. After a few adjustments, their unrestricted general fund dollars were $214,107,049 based on ADA of 37,225. These details are available on the CDE website.

    The Feds do not give OUSD revenue for daily operations. They send restricted revenue which has several strings attached. It comes in the form of Title programs, Title I being the biggest one.

    Other state revenue usually has strings attached. These programs are there to augment the general fund, not supplant it. It is especially risky to hire teachers with this money if the grants are one-time and not recurring. Other grants explicitly state that salary and benefit costs cannot be charged to them.

    Obviously, there is a need for certificated non-teaching staff. And some of them satisfy critical needs for OUSD. But, it is also important to note that
    many of these analysts and managers get paid a lot more than teachers. Let’s not forget that if you are not in the classroom instructing, then you are in support of the district’s instructional mission. If that is the case, with a few exceptions (superintendent, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum, etc) should you be making more than those who actually deliver the product that OUSD is in the business of providing?

    Finally, we are talking about teacher salaries, not compensation. While benefits are needed, they do not make up for lowly paid teachers. The compensation argument is just smoke and mirrors. Let’s pay the teachers what their peers in other districts are paid, then we can have a discussion benefits.

    Teachers do not join the profession for the money. They do it for noble reasons. There is a lot more to their lives than money. But, that doesn’t justify their being underpaid in Oakland or anywhere else.


  • TheTruthHurts

    Wow. That CDE site has lots of stuff. Check out the average class sizes and pupil teacher ratios of other Districts. Interesting stuff, but little time to study this stuff. Maybe that federal money is used to hire more which is why the ratios are what they are.

  • Del

    Many fingers are being pointed, but let’s point one in a new direction: federal stipulates that all special education students are to receive “free and appropriate public education,” even if that means sending a kid to a residential school at the cost of $150,000/year. Clearly, this far outstrips the $5,000 or even $7,000/year schools receive. Now, bell curve theory would suggest that a district will have about 10% GATE kids and 10% special education kids, and would spend accordingly. However, Oakland has a higher percentage of special education kids (most demographers/sociologists point to the crack epidemic as the cause), but receives the same amount of money form the government. This creates an unfunded mandate that absolutely handcuffs our district—and gives us a crappy pay scale.

  • Oakland Teacher

    This is off the State Dept of Ed School Accountability Report Cards. You can see we even pay our principals less in OUSD than the state average. When it comes right down to it, in Oakland, the closer you are to the students, the less you are paid in comparison to nearby districts or the state average. The average salaries are determined factoring in benefits, which = comparing similar package.

    As someone who lives here and has kids actually attending OUSD schools, compensation does matter. When you don’t pay enough, you create an unstable work force. I want my neighbors’ children and possibly my grandchildren to be in schools with stable staff. I want there to be another teacher retiring again with 39 years at one school. I want high school kids to be able to come back and visit their elementary school principal and teachers.

    Please keep in mind that we live in one of the most expensive parts of the state when looking at averages. That is one of the reasons the data for nearby district salaries is even more distressing when comparing to OUSD (see previous postings). Note – the salary comparison below is a good example of why people may be willing to start teaching in Oakland, but do not stay long.

    OUSD State

    Beginning Teacher Salary
    $38778 vs $40721
    Mid-Range Teacher Salary
    $53394 vs $65190
    Highest Teacher Salary
    $69714 vs $84151

    Average Principal Salary (Elementary)
    $86673 vs $104476
    Average Principal Salary (Middle)
    $87127 vs $108527
    Average Principal Salary (High)
    $89006 vs $119210

  • oakland teacher

    it is clear to me that, after teaching in oakland for seven years, this district is pushing hard to staff their schools with first and second year teach-for-america types. such young teachers are cheap and completely obedient. what an ideal situation for ousd: pay ’em less, work ’em to death, and turn ’em over.

    yikes….someone please save us.