Oakland teachers union leaders consider a one-day strike

UPDATE: No strike on April 4. Betty Olson-Jones said the executive board determined there was too little time. She said they’ll be organizing actions before, during and after school to oppose cuts and defend collective bargaining.


The AFL-CIO has called a national day of action April 4 in response to the curtailing of Wisconsin public workers’ collective bargaining rights and similar efforts in other states.

Later this afternoon, the Oakland teachers union’s leadership meets to decide how to show its solidarity with unions across the United States. While there is a range of ideas, some members of the Oakland Education Association’s executive board are calling for a one-day strike, said Betty Olson-Jones, president of the Oakland Education Association.

Technically, the OEA executive board could call a strike today. It was authorized to do so last fall, in an election with less than 15 percent turnout.┬áBut Olson-Jones said it’s critical to have a clear sense of where the rank-and-file members stand before taking such an action.

“If by some chance the executive board were to vote for a strike, I would insist that we poll our membership,” she said. “If you do call a strike, you make sure you have people behind you.”

How do you think the union should mark the national day of action on April 4? If a strike were called by the OEA, would you support it?

Katy Murphy

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

  • harlemmoon

    The day should be marked by reaffirming a commitment to the children of OUSD.
    Showing up at school, eager to present the day’s lesson is the best way to honor the children, yourselves and the profession.

  • livegreen

    When I saw the headline, I thought maybe they’d been discussing teachers and students here in Oakland, and my point earlier would be irrelevant. Instead, the OEA decides to make a broader political point about Wisconsin, while they ignore their own backyard, their own teachers, and their own students. Their own entire f___ school district (sorry, I’m frustrated). How predictable…

  • Katy Murphy

    I asked Betty Olson-Jones if proponents of a one-day strike (if called) see it as a response to what’s happening nationally or locally. She said it wasn’t clear to her — it’s something that would be discussed tonight — but that she thought it might be both.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Is anyone really surprised?

  • Jesse James

    Scary stuff…I wish that I felt the E-Board represented me.

  • Katy Murphy

    UPDATE: No strike on April 4. OEA President Betty Olson-Jones said the executive board determined there was too little time. She said they’ll be organizing actions before, during and after school to oppose cuts and defend collective bargaining.

  • Owen

    To our friends at the OEA and teachers around the district: DON’T do this. Please don’t.

    It’s clear that while the district’s administration still needs to be more accountable and transparent, they’re not the enemy; those holding our vote hostage are. That’s where the real money is. And those are the very people who would view a strike as evidence that schools already have more than they need; what do republicans in other parts of the state care about teachers in Oakland?

    Meanwhile, speaking for surely some parents in the district, our support for the OEA is tenuous at best at this point. We’ve followed the lack of backing for Measure L and lackluster support for the tax extension; now we have a chance to come together in support of our schools, kids — and yes, our teachers — a chance that would be completely debased by a symbolic strike such as this.

    Oakland teachers, we support you. We appreciate the incredibly hard work you do and believe you should be paid far more than you receive — but please consider the impact of your actions, far beyond sloganeering and symbolism.

  • livegreen

    Well said Owen…

  • Concerned OUSD Parent

    Does OEA realize that this is key pre-testing time? Can we as parents start a class action suit against OEA for

    They are causing many parents to choose to leave Oakland Schools.

  • Harold

    @Concerned Parent – did you read the update? No strike … but maybe you should be concerned about the district wasting money on consultants and fines for non-compliance (55% of funds used on staffing).

    Maybe you should start a class action lawsuit against the school board and the central administration?
    Accountability starts at the top Concerned Parent. You have the highest paid Superintendent in Alameda County, running the Oakland ship.

  • PD

    As a teacher who is a member of the OEA (though I note I was given no choice in the matter) I am more concerned by the fact that many leaders/activists in the OEA are also members of BAMN a violent Trotskyist organization whose agenda goes way beyond education towards bloody revolution.

    It’s one thing to have a union fight for your rights as a teacher and your students rights without them also having an agenda that calls for the destruction of the nuclear family and other similar Communist dribble. The fact that many OEA members are not open and up front about their membership speaks volumes about their real disdain for the democratic process and their habit (one shared with many radicals of all shapes) of invading reputable labor organizations and exploiting them for their own far more radical gains.

  • Turanga_teach

    PD: You can actively move against these members: they’re taking slots that you and other moderates can campaign for. The challenge is, when moderate folks don’t see the union as worth engaging with, they create vacancies which can be filled by people who do.

    And as far as I can see, the BAMN members are pretty open about their affiliation: without creating a witch hunt in a public forum, I would assert that this isn’t an issue of “hidden” communists, as much as it is one of folks on the fringe seeking power in a vacuum.

  • Starshaped

    The Executive Board is not made up of a bunch of “Trotskyist”. There are a few radicals on the board and I know of only two of the Executive Board who are active in BAMN. Those positions are up for re-election and they are being challenged by more moderate people so if you are concerned, please make an effort to vote. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain. On the whole, the females (with the execption of one) on the Executive Board are open to discussing and exploring other options and are more moderate than the hard-liners. You need to see how people vote on the issues that bother you the most and decide who aligns most with your ideals. Without the support of the marginalized of more moderate canidates, there is no way that the Executive Board can block the overtly political rhetoric.

  • Harold

    I am so tired of “young” Teachers complaining about the union. If you want the union to reflect your perspective, then you MUST get involved.