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State Schools Chief Steps in as Oakland Teachers Strike Hits Day 2

Teachers in Oakland will return to the picket lines Friday for Day 2 of their strike, and with little or no movement in contract talks, the state schools chief has stepped in with the hope he can bring a swift end to the work stoppage.

The 3,000 teachers, counselors and other school staff were set to picket in front of schools Friday. One of the lead negotiators for the teachers’ union said her team not only hasn’t received a meaningful contract proposal in writing, but they also just learned they’ve been bargaining with district negotiators who are powerless to finalize a deal.

“The school board has not given the OUSD bargaining team the authority to settle this contract, so that’s really frustrating to know that is the case,” said Vilma Serrano, bargaining co-chair for the Oakland Education Association. “We have been bargaining for seven months. Why has this not been resolved?”

Meanwhile, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has stepped in to mediate. Four years ago with Thurmond as mediator, the teachers and Oakland Unified were able to come to an agreement after 30 hours of mediation.

“My job is to make sure the conversation continues, that everyone is talking and that we’re looking at every single option for how to find some resolution,” Thurmond said.

In a statement Thursday night, the district said its team has worked day and night trying to hammer out an agreement and felt they had “closed the gap significantly, making an unprecedented compensation offer to our teachers.”

Oakland Unified Superintendent Kyla Johnson Trammell said in a news conference Thursday morning that OUSD had made a “historic” offer to OEA totalling nearly $70 million. But the district also said some of the union demands are too expensive or outside its authority, like ending student homelessness and transportation for all students.

Schools will be open again for students Friday, staffed by workers from the district’s central office. But with teachers out, there won’t be any instruction.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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