This is a recent article from our newest newsletter analyzing the OEA contract struggle. We post it here so you can access the citations and hyperlinks. Here, Aram Mendoza analyzes the current contract negotiations of OEA and its importance for Oakland teachers and, more widely, the needs of Oakland students. Aram also raises some very concrete tactics and next steps for individual teachers and teachers as a whole.
Why Teachers Should Care About the Contract
By Aram Mendoza
Oakland teachers, do we care about having a union?
Do we care about having a good contract?
What is an imposition and what should teachers do about it?
These are not rhetorical questions.
The reality is that we have been under an imposed “contract” since 2010. What does this mean? Simply put: Tony Smith and the OUSD school board have unilaterally, dictatorially, and undemocratically imposed terms of work upon education workers. It means that the “last, best, and final” offer was put on the table by the OUSD district bargaining team and was NOT agreed to by the OEA bargaining team. Though this imposition was carried out in April of 2010 (which was why OEA’s last strike was in that same month), it was not the last time that Smith and the Board have imposed on education workers: last year’s “Accelerated TSA” campaign was imposed on Fremont, McClymonds, and Castlemont teachers without any public, democratic process. More on this later.
Back to our current contract situation – we must ask: does our contract really matter? As I’ve talked to co-workers and friends who are teachers in Oakland’s public schools I’ve come to see the total lack of information that we have in relation to our own contractual agreement with the district.