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The election is over. Will OUSD’s labor lull end?

By Katy Murphy
Monday, November 8th, 2010 at 1:41 pm in budget, elections, OEA, union contract.

Compared to this spring, when Oakland teachers held a one-day strike, there has been relative calm this fall on the labor front. Have you noticed it, too?

It seemed as if both sides were waiting. Would Oaklanders would come forth with an infusion of cash — about $17 million a year for OUSD employees until 2021 — to save the day?

Not this time. Not enough of them, anyway. As of this morning, the Measure L parcel tax had received 65.05 percent approval; it needed 66.67 percent to pass. There are only a few thousand more votes to count, said Guy Ashley, a spokesman for the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

Troy Flint, the OUSD spokesman, said he expected contract negotiations to “begin in earnest again,” now that the election results are in. (Final tally at 4 p.m. today.)

“I think people were kind of in a holding pattern until the election so we could see what type of revenue we’d have, going forward,” Flint said.

Flint said the district would look for grants and other sources of funding to raise teacher salaries. (Those funds are more likely to come with more strings attached than a parcel tax.)

“We have to find a way, but this definitely hurts,” Flint said.

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  • Oakland Teacher

    The all-member OEA meeting called for Tuesday, Nov 16 is a good sign that the teachers want to move forward and change the status quo.

  • Ms. J.

    Oakland Teacher,
    When was this meeting announced? Our school is not very well in the loop, which I admit is not the OEA’s fault, but I’m wondering when this news was supposed to reach us?

  • Oakland Teacher

    Your OEA site rep should have gotten that info to you at least a week ago after their rep council meeting (first Monday of the month). If your site rep isn’t going to the meetings, you should make sure you have an alternate who picks up the info. I think it was announced about a month ago though.

  • http://OEAVote OUSD Teacher

    I’m a teacher and I tutor Tuesday afternoons so I can’t make the meeting. The system doesn’t seem fair -only people who are available Tuesday after school get to vote?

    Over and over again Tony Smith says that he agrees that we are not paid enough. Measure L would have passed if OEA had supported it. Now we’re supposed to strike? Striking hurts kids and families and teachers but it accomplishes little.

  • Gordon Danning

    Our site rep told us about it today at our faculty meeting. She said there is going to be a strike authorization vote, whatever that means

  • Another Oakland Teacher

    Every school should have a rep who is responsible to attend the meetings; regardless of whether all, most, many or any teachers at that site are union supporters. I have known about this meeting for weeks. You can also independently sign up for OEA email, which is not excessive, and you will be informed of, I think, almost everything that would be presented at the meetings.

    The meeting is not going to be ONLY about a strike authorization vote, and based on the meeting last spring, it will likely be to consider a wide variety of strategies, of which the strike authorization vote is only one.

    Also, authorizing a strike does NOT mean calling for a strike; it just becomes a possible tactic.

    I will also go out on a very unpopular limb here and say this is NOT the time to be asking for a raise. If even one person (classified or certificated) lost their job due to budget cuts, then it does not seem ethical to me to give another group of people a raise, regardless of how many years it has been or what the comparable salaries are for service in nearby districts. I would not vote to authorize a strike (one-day or open-ended) for a salary increase.

    And, just since I’m here writing something right now, I would like to address the question of “step increases,” which many people seem to think is such a terrible thing. Well, it equals EXPERIENCE, and as someone who has been seeking other work recently (due to my unhappiness with many things about OUSD, but not salary), EXPERIENCE has been a requirement in every posting I’ve read, and, in every case, more experience has equaled more pay. This is outside the district and in many different settings. I work with some wonderful, talented, relatively new teachers (2 to 4 years of experience). I respect their energy, passion and willingess to go the extra mile(s). Yet, not one of them knows more about teaching than I do (at 20 years of service), and every one of them will be a better teacher as they gain experience. Step increases are an acknowledgement of that experience. Of course, that’s if they stick around; about half of the 17 or so teachers on this staff are Teach for America, and, while, as I said, they are doing great work, I know for a fact, most of them plan to leave the profession soon.

    I feel I am worth every penny of my much higher salary, because I know my stuff. And it’s taken me 20 years to learn it. If I stick around for another 15 years teaching (at OUSD or elsewhere), I expect to be even better at the end of my career. Yes, some people start phoning it in, in the last years. But most don’t. Step increases validate those years of learning. Because you can’t not gain experience year by year. And by and large, that experience translates into better teaching, better learning and an improved experience for all.

  • OUSD Teacher

    Tony Smith– Highest paid In Alameda County

    OUSD Teachers– Lowest paid in Alameda County

    We work just as hard if not harder than our colleagues in Berkeley, Hayward, San Leandro, and Union City.

  • Another OUSD Teacher

    Tony Smith has a HUGE job. Getting Oakland schools back on track and keeping low-income kids in school will impact every aspect of life in Oakland. We are in a crisis situation and the responsibilities and the challenges of his job are immense. If he can succeed, he will be worth every penny.

  • JR

    One man is not worth that, because one man cannot fix this problem district alone. This requires a cultural,attitudinal, and resource shift(the hills already have this). So far its all been window dressing, and according to his spokesman(why does he need one, and isn’t that a waste of resources?)more dressing is being prepared. The small schools, small class theory doesn’t work(in Oakland at least)far more important is strict discipline and accountability from students and parents.

  • Katy Murphy

    The county registrar updated the votes this evening. Measure L ended up with 65.43 percent of the vote; 65,139 people voted for it, and 34,417 voted against it. Using my fifth-grade math word problem skills, I calculate it was about 1,265 votes short of passing.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Another Oakland Teacher: I respect your clear thoughts on not asking for a raise. However, when we accept the status quo to prevent layoffs, I suspect we are putting the good of a few individual adults ahead of the longterm benefit to all students now and into the future.

    You simply can’t pay significantly less than neighboring districts and expect to recruit and retain the most promising or established teachers over the long haul.

    Some teachers come to Oakland because of its “ghetto” reputation and others avoid it or leave for the same reason, but in the end salary is one input that will affect quality of teaching over time.

    The current budget crisis does not change that fact that Oakland teachers are basically the same pay as a decade ago.

    I also would remind you, with all due respect, that if you have 20 years on the ladder, you are making much more than I am — approaching twice as much — and you are unlikely to still be raising young children, as I am.

    There has to be some relationship to local cost of living and the ability to modestly raise a family if you are going to get the best and the brightest to stick with this profession in this district.

    As it stands, here is who should be happy with this salary structure: a) childless young people who can rent a room in a rough/hip neighborhood b) folks close to retirement with fixed or no mortgage payments looking to enjoy the pension provided by the teachers unions.

    No wonder my school has almost no teachers between the age of 30 and 50!!!

  • livegreen

    In a budget crisis for all, is it REALLY necessary for the OFCY POC to have a “End of Year Celebration” Gala? WITH City Staff from the Dept. of Human Services?

    Couldn’t money go instead to the programs that have been cut? I mean, if not the City budget, then at least the Schools & Children OFCY is supposed to benefit?