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Oakland Teachers Take Strike Vote, Accuse OUSD of Unfair Labor Practices

In a media release, the union announced that voting began on Monday: “Instead of negotiating a fair contract for the safe, stable, and racially-just schools our students deserve, OUSD has bargained in bad faith and broken labor law,” the union said. In a video statement on the OEA Facebook page, OEA Interim President Ismael “Ish” Armendariz announced the strike vote, which will be conducted for a week. Results will be tallied next Monday evening.

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Oakland Education Association (OEA) bargaining team members at recent teacher rally. Photo by Ken Epstein.
Oakland Education Association (OEA) bargaining team members at recent teacher rally. Photo by Ken Epstein.

By Ken Epstein

Members of the Oakland Education Association (OEA) are voting this week whether they are ready to go on strike against the Oakland Unified School District for “illegal, bad-faith bargaining.”

In a media release, the union announced that voting began on Monday: “Instead of negotiating a fair contract for the safe, stable, and racially-just schools our students deserve, OUSD has bargained in bad faith and broken labor law,” the union said.

In a video statement on the OEA Facebook page, OEA Interim President Ismael “Ish” Armendariz announced the strike vote, which will be conducted for a week. Results will be tallied next Monday evening.

Armendariz asked members to authorize the unfair labor practices walkout “when it’s necessary.”

“OUSD’s bargaining team has negotiated in bad faith,” he said. “They cancel sessions and give unserious proposals. Unfortunately, this behavior is continuing, and we can’t trust OUSD to come with serious proposals to settle a contract.”

“Our members deserve a livable wage,” he continued. “Our students deserve the services they need to be successful. (The district has not) come to the table to bargain special education, have not brought proposals around our safety,” (nor) responded to union proposals to enhance benefits to families and the community.

Kampala Taiz-Rancifer, OEA second vice president, said in a Facebook statement:

“OUSD is not only bargaining in bad faith, but their proposals are racist and create a separate and unequal salary schedule.” She also said the district has “ignored (its) legal obligation to bargain the impacts of closing special education classrooms with five weeks left in the school year.”

Prior to this week’s vote, OEA surveyed members to test their readiness to strike. Of the 80% of Oakland teachers who were polled, 90% said they were willing to strike.

Already ramping up strike preparations, the union has scheduled “merchant walks” on several weekends to reach out to the community, “art builds” to make picket signs at the OEA office and called a mass “fair contract” rally for next Wednesday.

On its website, OEA compares starting salaries of Oakland teacher with other major districts. First year teachers’ salaries are second to last in Oakland, earning $52,325 annually, while top-paying San Jose Unified has a beginning salary of $68,396.

The last contract between the district and OEA expired in October 2022. The district has been cutting the budget and is suggesting the possibility of closing, merging or consolidating schools to offer salary increases to teachers and other employees.

In a statement, the district said, “Because OUSD has finite resources for ongoing costs and must operate within a balanced budget, we are unable to do everything proposed by OEA. At the table, OUSD has expressed its desire to prioritize increasing compensation to improve educator retention and improving student outcomes.”

This week, the Los Angeles teachers’ union (UTLA), which often works cooperatively with the OEA, announced a tentative agreement with their district.

UTLA won a 21% salary increase for all members, overall class size reduction by two students across all grade levels, increased staffing and pay for counselors, psychologists and others, and more support staff and enforceable class size limits for special education.

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Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

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To enlarge your view of this issue, use the slider, magnifying glass icon or full page icon in the lower right corner of the browser window.

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ICAC Invites Community to Benefit from Safe Car Park Program

The Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) will hold a meeting to announce a faith-based expansion of overnight safe car parking for unhoused families on Thursday, June 13, 2024, from 1-2 p.m. at Williams Chapel Baptist Church located at 1410 10th Avenue in Oakland. The ICAC President, Rev. Ken Chambers, announced that Williams Chapel, pastored by Rev. Kenneth Anderson, and members of ICAC, has also planned to open an overnight safe car parking program and day center to provide unhoused neighbors and families with wrap-around services.

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Chambers said, "ICAC's goal is to just serve Oakland by helping to make the community surrounding 10th Avenue and International Boulevard both welcoming and safe."
Chambers said, "ICAC's goal is to just serve Oakland by helping to make the community surrounding 10th Avenue and International Boulevard both welcoming and safe."

by Post Staff

The Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC) will hold a meeting to announce a faith-based expansion of overnight safe car parking for unhoused families on Thursday, June 13, 2024, from 1-2 p.m. at Williams Chapel Baptist Church located at 1410 10th Avenue in Oakland.

The ICAC President, Rev. Ken Chambers, announced that Williams Chapel, pastored by Rev. Kenneth Anderson, and members of ICAC, has also planned to open an overnight safe car parking program and day center to provide unhoused neighbors and families with wrap-around services.

Rev. Chambers said additional support for the program will also come from Bishop Bob Jackson, Pastor of Acts Full Gospel Church and Pastor Phyllis Scott, head of the Oakland Police Chaplaincy Program.

Chambers said, “ICAC’s goal is to just serve Oakland by helping to make the community surrounding 10th Avenue and International Boulevard both welcoming and safe.”

David Longhurst, a member of Oakland Temple LDS Church and an ICAC board member, said

“We can make the city of Oakland safer, one block at a time, by connecting our community and neighbors.”

Chambers said ICAC has a $450,000 grant commitment from the City of Oakland and a $2.5M grant request has been presented to Nate Miley, President of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Nate Miley to cover and expand ICAC’s Safe Car Park Program located at West Side Missionary Baptist Church to additional locations including Center Street Baptist Church, Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church, Corinthians Baptist Church, Allen Temple Baptist Church, Acts Full Gospel Church, and other congregations.

Dr. Ken Chambers said he and ICAC are assisting congregations on how to receive a one-time $5,000 grant. “ICAC has plans for several tiny homes with kitchens, living space and bathrooms that we hope will become available this fall in partnership with the State, County and City of Oakland.”

Chambers is appealing to the public to help with transitioning the unhoused populations into tiny homes or affordable housing. “If you or anyone you know is living out of a car and needs a safe place to park overnight, visit interfaithAC.org, call 510-239-6681, or stop by the ICAC hub at 732 Willow Street, Oakland, CA 94607 between the hours of 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.”

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Calif. Leaders Discuss Foster Care Reform Strategies for Black and Brown Youth

Before becoming a nationally recognized social justice leader and a member of California’s Mandated Reporting Taskforce, Shane Harris spent 13 years as a foster care youth after he lost both of his parents. As President of the national civil rights organization, People’s Association of Justice Advocates (PAJA), he’s aiming to solve some of the toughest challenges Black and Brown children in the foster care system face.

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Shane Harris, PAJA President and member of the California Mandated Reporting Taskforce (center) with Hafsa Kaka, Senior Advisor on Homelessness to Governor Gavin Newsom and Dr. Janet Kelly, Founder & Director of Sanctuary of Hope LA (far right) (Lila Brown CBM)
Shane Harris, PAJA President and member of the California Mandated Reporting Taskforce (center) with Hafsa Kaka, Senior Advisor on Homelessness to Governor Gavin Newsom and Dr. Janet Kelly, Founder & Director of Sanctuary of Hope LA (far right) (Lila Brown CBM)

By Lila Brown, California Black Media  

 Before becoming a nationally recognized social justice leader and a member of California’s Mandated Reporting Taskforce, Shane Harris spent 13 years as a foster care youth after he lost both of his parents. As President of the national civil rights organization, People’s Association of Justice Advocates (PAJA), he’s aiming to solve some of the toughest challenges Black and Brown children in the foster care system face.

During National Foster Care Month in May, Harris visited the Sanctuary of Hope in Los Angeles to host a roundtable meeting with current and former foster youth, many of whom, like Harris, have beat the odds and become successful professionals.

According to the federal government’s Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, there are nearly 370,000 American children and youth in foster care.

Nationally, Black children are overrepresented in foster care. According to datacenter.kidscount.org, Black children represented 14% of the total child population in the United States. However, they represented 23% of all children in foster care. Harris pointed out that one out of every four foster youth go homeless upon exiting foster care in California. Across the state, there are nearly 65,000 children in foster care, he added. Of the 65,000 children in foster care across California, 14,000 of them are Black American.

Harris also announced a new effort already underway to push for the removal of the term “case” in L.A. County when referring to foster youth during the roundtable which featured Hafsa Kaka, Senior Advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom and Janet Kelly, the Founder and Director of Sanctuary of Hope. The session focused on solving problems foster youth face.

Sharing personal stories, insights, and various visions for policy changes, the participants discussed numerous solutions and addressed specific concerns about ongoing challenges with the foster care system.

One top priority was how to close the foster care to homelessness pipeline for the disproportionate number of Black and Brown children in LA County’s and the state’s foster care system.

“When you see the direct connection between the disproportionate rates of Black children in foster care and the disproportionate rates of Black people in the general homeless population, there is a very clear connection there in which our foster youth are coming out of care,” stated Harris during opening remarks.

Kaka said the governor has been intentional about making sure that foster children are homeless prioritized as the state addresses homelessness.

“This is a critical moment for foster care,” said Kaka. “The systems that are working together are looking at leveraging federal, state and local funds.”

Harris said he has already begun efforts in San Diego County to drop the word “case” when referring to homeless youth.

“We are asking for a 90-day public input period, in which the county CEO and leadership can facilitate discussions with the community on replacement terminology. There’s plenty of ideas,” Harris elaborated.

Kelly said a majority of the youth who go through the Sanctuary of Hope program are young people who have experienced some form of housing instability or housing crisis.

“The goal of the work that we do is really centered around helping young people leave here with leadership skills and other forms of what we call protective factors in order for them to continue on with their stabilization journey and become loving, caring and active citizens in this world,” Kelly said.

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