Oakland Teachers’ Union to Ask Support from City Officials

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday April 04, 2006

Teachers, parents, labor supporters and other members of the community will descend upon Oakland City Hall Wednesday at 4 p.m. to demand support from city officials in an ongoing clash over contract negotiations. 

Protesters will beseech Oakland’s key mayoral candidates to throw their weight behind the Oakland teachers’ union, which has been battling the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) for fair contracts for two years. The union represents 3,200 teachers, nurses and librarians. 

Mayoral hopeful Ron Dellums unilaterally defends Oakland’s teachers. 

“He very much supports the teachers and their efforts to get a raise,” said his spokesperson Mike Healy.  

City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, who will battle Dellums for the mayor’s seat in November, refused to pick sides.  

“He is against a strike,” said his spokesperson Libby Schaaf. “He believes the district and the teachers need to get back to the negotiating room and find a compromise.”  

A representative for Nancy Nadel, who will also vie to become Oakland’s mayor, could not be reached for comment by press time.  

The rally comes just a week after Oakland Education Association (OEA) President Ben Visnick announced that Oakland’s teachers will walk off the job April 20 if a contract settlement is not reached. 

Recent talks between the school district and the union have yielded some progress—the district agreed March 21 to give teachers a 5.5 percent raise, up from an earlier offer of 4 percent—but disagreement over two issues, healthcare and teacher preparation periods, remains strong.  

District spokesperson Alex Katz said schools will remain open in the event of a strike..