Jeremy Wolff teaches fifth grade at Sequoia Elementary. He holds up a banner with artwork created by Oakland artist Micah Bazant. (Muna Danish/KQED)
Updated Jan. 21, 4:09 p.m.
Oakland teachers will vote at the end of the month on whether they want to go on strike as they remain locked in contract negotiations with the Oakland Unified School District.
"A democratic strike vote by paper ballot at school sites in the Oakland Unified School District will send a message that Oakland educators are serious about ending the teacher retention crisis," said Keith Brown, president of the Oakland Educators Association, who officially called for the strike vote on Sunday.
The union is calling for a 12 percent raise over three years, while OUSD is offering five percent. The vote — which could give union leaders the power to call a strike — will start on Jan. 29 and last four days.
The announcement came at an "art build" event at the union's offices in Oakland. Educators, parents and students came together over three days to make banners in preparation for a strike. The signs were designed by local artists including Favianna Rodriguez and Micah Bazant, as well as artists from Art Build Workers, an artist collective based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Oakland High School teacher Lara Trale said she's still hopeful for a resolution.
"We would love to avoid a strike, but for that to happen the district needs to really work with its teachers instead of against them," she said.
Oakland teachers and their supporters are building on a larger movement that includes teachers currently striking in Los Angeles and, before that, in red states like West Virginia and Kentucky.
In a statement, OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammel said the district is working to avoid a disruption for students and hopes to reach a settlement soon.
John Sasaki, a spokesman for OUSD, said the district is asking the teachers back to the table to make a new offer.
"Well the last thing we want to see is a strike and so we understand that the teachers want more, we want to give them more," he said. "We know that educators need to be paid more in this country and in the state and certainly in Oakland, so we are working to do that."
Peter Jon Shuler contributed to this report.
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