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Wildcat Sick-Out Strike By Oakland Teachers

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Wildcat Sick-Out Strike By Oakland Teachers

Jim Knapp, Staff Writer

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Under threat of suspension and a cut paycheck, teachers in Oakland California school district have rejected the word of overly cautious union leader and organized a Wildcat “Sick-out” strike, December 10, 2018. Teachers of at least five schools in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) took part in a one-day strike aiming their anger at district budget cuts, stagnating working conditions and disproportionate salaries among school staff, due to rocky negotiations between the OUSD and the Oakland Education Association (OEA). Oakland Unified School District teachers also want an explanation as to why their district spends an estimated $50 Million more than any other district in the area on administration, yet pays their educators far less than that of more wealthier, predominantly white school districts.

After days of intense negotiations, the OUSD won a five percent pay raise to teachers over three years, despite the fact that the educators involved stood firmly to their original proposal of twelve percent. The OEA saw failure in fulfilling demands for smaller class sizes and improved classroom supplies as well. Not satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations, teachers defied the word of their union leader and continued the fight for the much needed improvements to their working conditions, as well as reform to the local teachers union which has become ‘top-down and ineffective’ according to the striking workers. Nearly 100 teachers and students from the Oakland School District ditched work and school to march on City Hall and made their demands. Many educators rallied behind the chant, heard from numerous striking teachers, “Chop from the top.” This slogan demonstrates the teachers outrage at the unfair distribution of salaries in their district, mostly to expensive consultants who offered programs that merley worsened the financial issue in the area, cutting teacher pay in order to pay off said consultants. Seeing these Wildcat strikes from their own members, the OUSD began threatening any teacher who called in sick to support the strike were subject to disciplinary actions or loss of pay.

In the middle of a large spike in civil unrest and disobedience across the world with the “Yellow Vest” movement, many striking teacher were determined to have their voices heard. Influenced by the teachers’ strikes in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma, and wished to inspire a sense of solidarity in their struggle. These acts of civil disobedience taking place across the nation by teachers, no less, has included educators fed up with indecisive and bureaucratic unions headed by leaders, not sympathetic to their daily lives; as well as teachers taking it upon themselves, without the aid of a state mandated union, to achieve better pay and working conditions.

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Wildcat Sick-Out Strike By Oakland Teachers