Another California strike. What’s the difference?


Mike Antonucci outlines the difference between the Oakland and recent Los Angeles strikes.  The Oakland strike, while approved by a majority of union members there, will not take place for at least another week while both sides await a fact-finding report.

The major issue is pay in the Oakland strike, whereas the UTLA strike focused on class size.  Oakland Unified district continues to repay a million-dollar loan from a takeover from 2003-2009.

When you have 32,000 teachers on strike in the nation’s second-largest school district — and a media capital at that — it will draw massive attention. Oakland will also draw attention, but much of it as a byproduct of the Los Angeles teacher strike and the red state walkouts of 2018.

With 3,000 active members, OEA is less than one-tenth the size of United Teachers Los Angeles, and it’s not even the largest teacher union in the Bay Area. We can expect a greatly diminished media presence relative to L.A.

We will see familiar tactics. OEA distributed a strike readiness toolkit to members, just as UTLA did. Its statewide parent union, the California Teachers Association, will support solidarity actions on Feb. 15 across the state to draw attention to Oakland. There are also plans to stage informational picketing in other school districts on the second day of an Oakland strike.

Among the ranks of the OEA leadership are officers who are even more militant than those in UTLA. There will be lots of messaging about privatizers and corporations in one of the most politically liberal areas of the nation. However, Oakland lacks a convenient individual target for that messaging.

Where L.A. Unified was led by Austin Beutner, a white, male public education neophyte with a corporate background, Oakland Unified is led by Kyla Johnson-Trammell, an African-American female who attended Oakland public schools and has spent her entire career working for the district, first as a teacher.