May 15, 2023
Oakland Unified Strike Mediated by State Superintendent Thurmond Ends, Allowing Students to Return to Class
OAKLAND—Today, the strike and labor dispute between the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and the Oakland Education Association (OEA) concluded. The strike that has been mediated by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and members of the team from the California Department of Education (CDE) since Thursday, May 4, 2023, ended with both sides announcing that a tentative agreement has been reached. All schools will be open today, Monday May 15; full instruction will resume tomorrow.
The strike lasted seven days, and the dispute focused on concerns including increased compensation for teachers, nurses, social workers, psychologists, librarians, and other staff. The OEA had also asked the district to build measures into the contract that would have funded staffing positions and other services intended to support black students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“I stepped in to help mediate this strike in hopes of getting our students back to class as quickly as possible,” Thurmond said. “While the issues were very complex, I observed that both parties, OEA and OUSD, participated in very productive discussions, often into the late hours of the night. I am also glad that this contract results in higher pay for the deserving school staff who are working in one of the most expensive parts of the state. Their experience represents the need for our systems to find ways to provide better compensation for school staff all across our state,” Thurmond added.
Thurmond also noted appreciation for the staff at the CDE who assisted in mediation efforts, including Chief Deputy Superintendent Mary Nicely and Deputy Superintendents Malia Vella and Abel Guillén. Vella helped secure space for more than 60 people for the negotiations and provided other key logistics that aided in the successful resolution of the strike.
With a workforce of approximately 1,500, the CDE does not have any staff responsible for working on labor and management issues. Nevertheless, Thurmond—who led joint sessions and shuttle diplomacy with staff, union members, and board members—has voluntarily offered to mediate or co-facilitate labor and management peace for at least a half-dozen districts since being elected as State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2019. That year, Thurmond mediated for 30 hours to help successfully end a previous strike in OUSD.
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100