PHOTOS: Oakland Teachers Paint, Prepare to Vote on Strike

1 min
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.

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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."

Quinn Ranahan is a math teacher at Roots International Academy. The school is one of 24 public schools that the district announced it may shut down. 'There is no good plan for where our kids will go,' says Ranahan.
Quinn Ranahan is a math teacher at Roots International Academy. The school is one of 24 public schools that the district announced it may shut down. 'There is no good plan for where our kids will go,' says Ranahan. (Muna Danish/KQED)
Julie Searle teaches middle school in Berkeley and joined the 'art build' in solidarity with the Oakland teachers. 'It's uplifting and builds solidarity when we make things together,' Searle said.
Julie Searle teaches middle school in Berkeley and joined the 'art build' in solidarity with the Oakland teachers. 'It's uplifting and builds solidarity when we make things together,' Searle said. (Muna Danish/KQED)
Lara Trale, a teacher at Oakland High School, paints a sign with her daughter Io Trale, who is in the fourth grade.
Lara Trale, a teacher at Oakland High School, paints a sign with her daughter Io Trale, who is in the fourth grade. (Muna Danish/KQED)
The artwork for the posters was created by local Bay Area artists as well as the collective Art Build Workers from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The artwork for the posters was created by local Bay Area artists as well as the collective Art Build Workers from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Muna Danish/KQED)
This was the third day of the Art Build, which brought together educators, parents and students to create protest art.
This was the third day of the Art Build, which brought together educators, parents and students to create protest art. (Muna Danish / KQED)
'Coming and making art feels like a beautiful thing to do. It's about what we're for, not just what we're against,' says Johanna Langill, a math teacher at Oakland Tech.
'Coming and making art feels like a beautiful thing to do. It's about what we're for, not just what we're against,' says Johanna Langill, a math teacher at Oakland Tech. (Muna Danish/KQED)
People help paint a parachute that says 'education justice now.' The image is inspired by artwork from Black Panther graphic artist Emory Douglas.
People help paint a parachute that says 'education justice now.' The image is inspired by artwork from Black Panther graphic artist Emory Douglas. (Muna Danish/KQED)
'We're making work next to each other, forging friendships and having fun together, and that's part of the power of art build,' says Kim Cosier of Art Build Workers, an artist collective from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
'We're making work next to each other, forging friendships and having fun together, and that's part of the power of art build,' says Kim Cosier of Art Build Workers, an artist collective from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Muna Danish/KQED)
Coyo Tena, 11, is a student at Sequoia Elementary. He's helping paint a parachute with other students.
Coyo Tena, 11, is a student at Sequoia Elementary. He's helping paint a parachute with other students. (Muna Danish/KQED)
(L-R) Claudio Martinez and Kim Cosier are both artists involved with the collective Art Build Workers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They came to Oakland to support the 'art build' event.
(L-R) Claudio Martinez and Kim Cosier are both artists involved with the collective Art Build Workers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They came to Oakland to support the 'art build' event. (Muna Danish/KQED)
Cecilia Titizano (center) paints a sign with her husband and sixth grade daughter. 'It's inspiring. I think it's a community effort. Teachers are part of our community. They are not alone. We are here with them, and we will support them when they strike,' Titizano says.
Cecilia Titizano (right) paints a sign with her husband and sixth grade daughter. 'It's inspiring. I think it's a community effort. Teachers are part of our community. They are not alone. We are here with them, and we will support them when they strike,' Titizano says. (Muna Danish/KQED)

Peter Jon Shuler contributed to this report.

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