Big decision Monday for Oakland teachers

At a 4 p.m. membership meeting tomorrow at Oakland Technical High School, teachers will take an important vote: whether to authorize its leadership to call an extended strike. As of this afternoon, the meeting has not been prominently featured on the Oakland Education Association’s website, though I saw fliers promoting it on strike day.

Union leaders met Friday evening to determine the substance of tomorrow’s secret ballot and whether it would include strike authorization. My attempts to reach OEA President Betty-Olson Jones by phone that night and the next day were unsuccessful, but fortunately I saw her last night at the Oakland Museum of California reopening. (I love cornering sources while they’re out trying to enjoy themselves…)

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Oakland teacher strike participation: 91%

picket line at Skyline High SchoolI’m no longer at the big, musical rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza, but union leaders there have reported that 91 percent of the district’s teachers participated in today’s strike.

The CTA says the rally drew nearly 2,000 people. That number seems a bit high to me, but I’m not very good at crowd estimates. In any event, there were lots of teachers, students and parents there.

Still waiting on student attendance stats. If they reflect the numbers at Skyline (about 60-65, according to my head count this morning), McClymonds, Oakland Tech (a grand total of 12 kids, according to teacher David de Leeuw) and Futures Academy, the elementary school I toured this morning, it will be extremely low. Continue Reading


Striking students outnumber teachers at Fremont

strike day at Fremont Federation. Photo by Lane Hartwell/Oakland Tribune8:45 a.m. Angela Hill reports that there were about 50 to 60 people scattered around the perimeter of Fremont High School along Foothill Boulevard, High Street and 47th Avenue.

About 15 or 20 were teachers, but most were students — some supporting the teachers and holding picket signs, but most just in small clusters hanging out with friends.

The campus looked nearly deserted, and one teacher said he counted about 70 students going in, but more than half of them soon wandered back out. So far, there had been no major confrontations.

“We have strict rules that we are not going to block anyone trying to cross the picket line,” said Sid Waxman, who has taught English for about three years in the Paul Robeson High School, one of four small schools on the Fremont campus. Robeson is slated for closure. Continue Reading


Bret Harte parents get the message

8:20 a.m.  About 20 teachers manned the picket line at Bret Harte Middle School on Coolidge Avenue, with more scheduled to come out throughout the day, reports Angela Hill. Only about 30 students out of a student body of 750-800 had showed up for school so far.

“Our message really got out to the the community about our strike and what it means for education,” said Keith Brown, a 6th grade ESL teacher.

The teachers were quiet until the TV cameras arrived, then they all started chanting.

They said three subs and one union member crossed the line.

“It was very uncomfortable,” said English teacher Peter Mates. “We asked her not to cross, but she said she had to for financial reasons.”


Oakland teacher strike coverage

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be handing the blog over to my colleague Cecily Burt, who has kindly agreed to post reporters’ updates here while we’re out and about, along with a photographer. There’s also a live chat in the works.

I’ll be tweeting from the picket lines, too, starting at 7 a.m. Follow my updates here.

If you have any news tips tomorrow, please e-mail me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com and Cecily at cburt@bayareanewsgroup.com. Want to write about what you’ve seen and experienced? Please do! If you use your real name on the blog, even better…


On Thursday, what’s a school secretary to do?

school secretary, by savageartworks' photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons

Teachers will be on strike Thursday. But what about your school secretary and custodian? Your teacher’s aide (where applicable)?

There’s been some confusion among district employees about whether the `other unions’ — the SEIU and AFSCME, mainly — will show up to work or stand with the teachers. I can empathize with the confused: I contacted the local SEIU office at least twice, called the Pasadena-based employee hotline, questioned the public relations guy, e-mailed the OUSD rep and got nowhere.

Poor timing, maybe, but there might be another reason: These unions are in a tough spot. They reached agreements with the Oakland school district months ago, or even longer, and guess what? Those contracts include no-strike clauses. This means they can’t legally call a sympathetic strike. At the same time, as the SEIU media relations guy from Pasadena told me (before promising to call me back after he “double-checked,” which he didn’t), unions don’t make a habit of crossing other unions’ picket lines. And the Alameda Labor Council supports the teacher strike.

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Union letter: Send your kids to school on Thursday, at their own risk

It’s official: The Oakland school district will hold school on Thursday, despite the one-day strike. So far, about 300 emergency teachers have cleared background checks, with more in the pipeline, according to district spokesman Troy Flint; at least 60 people from the central office will head out to the schools as well.

But just in case you were thinking about sending your kids to school on strike day, this letter from the Oakland teachers union — which was sent home with children in at least one school — warns that you might be placing them in harm’s way: Continue Reading


Oaklanders: Do you support the strike? The contract imposition?

Teachers make picket signs Thursday for strike. Photo by Ray Chavez/Tribune staff

At a news conference yesterday morning, Gary Yee placed the teacher contract imposition in the context of the district’s painful takeover history, Tony Smith said he wanted to start over and OEA executive director Ward Rountree said that was a terrible way to do it. (You can find a story about the whole situation here.)

We posted reader polls on the strike and the contract imposition, if you care to vote. Oh, and the Tribune ran an editorial saying raises for teachers would be “nice,” but that the district can’t afford them.

At the news conference yesterday, I asked Continue Reading