Here are a few pictures of Oakland’s teachers strike of 2019. Oakland has not seen such an outpouring of support from its working class community in many years. Many articles have already been written on the strike, including by Oaklandsocialist. Hopefully, these pictures will give a little sense of the mood and the feel of that event.
The picket line at Bella Vista School. It remained strong for the duration of the strike.
Here are some parents, kids and striking teachers at Bella Vista. One thing that struck me was the warmth that teachers and students of all ages displayed for each other throughout the strike.
At the end of the first day, the strikers rallied at Oscar Grant Plaza. These rallies were large and enthusiastic. I think it would have been great had they rallied in the intersection of 14 St. and Broadway. That would have shut down downtown Oakland! Hopefully next time.
Fremont High School students and teachers on the march
These kids were the hit of the day.
pay rate for Oakland teachers vs. surrounding districts
Another spirited rally on Day 3
As I walked away from the rally on Day 3, I passed by this scene. In a way, it’s a different subject, bur really it’s not. How often do we just not see those sleeping in the streets?
On Day 6 (I think it was), just another rally?
I think not! They marched into and occupied the main lobby of the State Building. This was a sharp departure from most strikes, where the leadership makes doubly sure that absolutely nothing that even comes close to crossing the legal line ever happens.
The state employees came out and watched from the balcony. Many of them waved in support.
Every workers movement needs its own music and entertainment. After the occupation of the State Building, a drumming group got going and teachers and drummers danced to the music.
And on the Seventh Day they rested… except if you’re on strike!
On the seventh day, OUSD was supposed to meet at La Escuelita. The meeting was meant to vote on a budget, including plans to close over 20 schools. The teachers set up a picket.
SEIU workers gathered to show their solidarity.
While we were out there, an announcement was made of a tentative agreement. However, the pickets remained.
It was a good thing, too. A short while later, school board member Jumoke Hodge and a body guard of hers tried – unsuccessfully – to force their way through.
Here she is talking on the phone as she and her body guard walk away. This was clearly a shock to her.
What I hadn’t seen was this – Hodge choking a striker. She later “apologized”, but at the same time she lied about what had happened.
The police gathered. I thought they were going to call reinforcements and force their way through with Hodge and bodyguard. That’s what usually happens in situations like this.
Instead, the escorted Hodge and her bodyguard away. This is a testimony to the immense community support for the teachers. The cops realized that if they’d done what they usually do, including busting a few heads, there would be a huge outcry from Oakland’s working class. It just shows, once again, that might makes right.
The following Sunday, a meeting of OEA members was called to discuss and vote on the strike. Here teachers are, standing on line, waiting to get in to their meeting.
A wide angle shot. There was a lot of discussion going on as teachers waited. This included several leaflets being distributed, all of which advocated a “no” vote on the tentative agreement.
As was the case throughout the strike, students showed up to support the teachers.
The contract was passed with about 53% “yes” to 47% “no” – a pretty close result. My view is that if there had been some even more disruptive actions, like holding the rallies in the intersection of 14th St. and Broadway, and marching on the Port of Oakland, that a lot better contract would have resulted. However, as these next pictures show, this is very far from over.
Shortly before the strike had started, the OUSD voted to distribute school library money in a different way. Instead of sending the money to the schools that needed it the most, they voted to distribute it evenly among all schools. But parents in the wealthier schools raise plenty of money to supplement this, so they don’t have to worry. Schools in the poor neighborhoods? Not so much. The result is that those school libraries will have to close. Here’s a display on that outside where OUSD was meeting.
High school students throughout Oakland had walked out. Prior to the OUSD meeting, they rallied down the street at Laney Community College.
Then they filled the hall where OUSD was meeting to vote on a starvation budget for OUSD. Many of the board members are financed by the charter school advocates – a conflict of interest if there ever was one. They are trying to kill off public education. But you can rest assured that this is not the end of the battle. In New York City back in 1968, a prolonged teacher strike led to a widespread and very radical high school student movement. Given the ferment in public education and in society as a whole, it seems likely that this will be coming again.