Teachers unsatisfied with offer of 0% raise

Imagine walking into school one day and most of your teachers aren’t present.

There is a possibility that could happen if the teachers union and district don’t reach a contract agreement soon.

On Dec. 9, union representatives met with the district to try to agree on a contract for the teachers.

What the teachers are fighting for is a new contract because they have worked without a contract since 2008. Contracts usually expire every two years, but negotiations haven’t been resolved.

Some teachers have a strong opinion on the negotiations.

“It’s real frustrating,” said Edward Holohan, a Media Academy resource specialist, who added,

“There was a strike in 1996 that went on for six weeks. I hope history doesn’t repeat itself.

Adults are acting like little kids. It’s just a lot of frustration.”                                       

The teachers are demanding fair pay and conditions that protect public education in Oakland, according to a flyer by the Oakland Education Association, the union.

“The teachers are proposing a new contract that would improve the economic standards and working conditions for all teachers, staff and the students they serve,” said Holohan.

The district, however, says that due to the national money crisis, it would be hard to pay the teachers.

“For some time, OUSD administration has been trying to negotiate terms for a new contract,” said district spokesman Troy Flint. “This process is complicated by the difficult national economy, reduced educational funding from the state of California.

The district needs to cut costs in order to balance the budget. As a result, the two sides are far apart at this moment,” said Flint.

But Flint showed empathy for teachers.

“We realize our teachers deserve more money, but at this time the district simply can’t afford the requested raise,” he said.

But Craig Gordon, a Robeson teacher and union representative, disagrees.

In an e-mail to Fremont teachers, he wrote that contracts could be funded by redirecting money from outside contracts.

The Oakland School District pays $80 million annually to consultants, and teachers like Gordon believe that money can be cut to pay for raises.

Gordon contends that a 5 percent salary increase for teachers over each of the next three years would cost the district $23 million, which he thinks it can afford.

According to published reports, district officials are proposing a 0 percent increase for teachers instead of a 3 percent cut, which they originally proposed.

“It’s like going to work for a long time and not getting paid,” said Holohan.

Teachers involved with the negotiations still feel that meeting up can make changes to the conditions that they are in.

If negotiations don’t happen, teachers could potentially have a strike.

“It’s really hard to say at this point. My great hope and expectation is that we’ll be able to resolve our differences without a strike or any other labor action that would interfere with student learning,” said Flint.