The teachers’ strike in Oakland, California, came to end on Friday, as the educators’ union and school district reached a tentative agreement.
About 3,000 educators went on strike Feb. 21, demanding higher wages, reduced class sizes and other resources like more counselors and nurses for students. With teachers and supporters picketing daily at schools and rallying in front of City Hall, the strike continued into this week, as the union and school district were unable to reach agreement.
The new contract will provide teachers with an 11 percent salary raise and a one-time 3 percent bonus, as well as reduce class sizes.
The tentative agreement represents a significant victory for Oakland educators, who originally demanded a 12 percent raise and held strong in their strike as the school district offered a 7 percent raise last week and 8 percent earlier this week.
The union tweeted on Friday that it reached a “historic no-concessions contract with a win in every major proposal we made.”
“We are now leaps and bounds closer to the schools that Oakland students deserve,” the union wrote. “When we strike, we win!”
Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said in a statement that the agreement was “a major step in support of our teachers and students,” adding that she looked forward to “everyone being together again in the classroom” on Monday.
During the strike, an average of 6 percent of the district’s 37,000 students went to class. Many parents and kids opted to picket and rally alongside teachers.
Oakland teachers were the latest in the nation to demand more pay and better classroom conditions. Tens of thousands of educators in Los Angeles went on strike in January and won a better agreement, and West Virginia teachers went on strike last week to protest what they viewed as a legislative effort to privatize public education.
Educators told HuffPost this week that, without a larger raise, they couldn’t afford to live in the Bay Area, where housing prices have soared in recent years amid Northern California’s affordable-housing crisis.
“People can’t afford to live here,” said Janet Vasquez, a sixth-grade teacher at Life Academy in East Oakland, where most of her students are Latinx. Vasquez, 22, grew up going to Oakland public schools and still lives with her family. “I can’t afford to move out,” she said.
School district officials had said they didn’t receive enough money from the state to allow for more spending on wages and other resources. Meanwhile, teachers claimed that the problem stemmed from district mismanagement of funds and spending too much on administrators and outside consultants.