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Standing Strong with Oakland Teachers

Labor icon Dolores Huerta (center, with black jacket) helps lead a march in support of Oakland teachers. (Photo credit: Joe Bates)
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AFSCME members in Northern California are standing strong with teachers in Oakland as the educators fight for respect and the ability to provide a better education for the students they serve.

Melisha Linzie. (Photo credit: Joe Bates)
Melisha Linzie. (Photo credit: Joe Bates)

Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) educators and Oakland Education Association (OEA) members have endured overcrowded classrooms, unsafe caseloads for support staff and the lack of a living wage for far too long. Striking since Feb 21, they want the district to resolve these issues, which make providing high-quality education to students more difficult.

Melisha Linzie, a paraeducator and vice president of AFSCME Local 257 (Council 57), a local comprised of OUSD custodians, food service workers, licensed vocational nurses and paraeducators, was among those standing on the front lines with her fellow educators.

“I look at myself in two parts: a paraeducator and a union officer. As a union leader, I want to support my union brothers and sisters. As someone that works in the classroom with the teacher, I understand their concerns and believe in their struggle,” said Linzie. “Addressing the concerns that our teachers are fighting for will help retain qualified teachers … so students get the education they deserve.”

Sam Hamidi (Member-provided photo)
Sam Hamidi (Member-provided photo)

Council 57 provided coffee, doughnuts and lunch for strikers on the picket lines at a number of schools in the area.

Samineh “Sam” Hamidi, a 10th grade paraeducator and a Local 257 member, said, “It’s really difficult to provide quality education for a large class – sometimes up to 28 students – with only one teacher and support staff. When teachers benefit, the entire education system.”

Hamidi added, “I’ve been working with the district over seven years and I’m still there because of my students. I love my students. Watching them succeed is what keeps us going. Sometimes we have to pay out of pocket to provide booklets and supplies for our students.”

The Oakland teacher strike is hardly the first such action AFSCME members have embraced. Our members have also been standing with teachers in Arizona, West Virginia and Los Angeles as they fight for better education and to improve their communities.

In-depth coverage of the strike can be found here, here and here.