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Oakland Educators Discuss Joining Upcoming Rent Strike

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Educators in Oakland met in an electronic town hall on Saturday, April 25, to discuss a raft of problems caused in large measure by the novel coronavirus.

Around 80 faculty, staff and community members chatted via Zoom in a conference organized by the Oakland Education Association to organize participation in the upcoming May Day general strike and its associated rent strike.

Similar actions have gained momentum across the country. Over the past month, cities across the country have seen rent strikes, with organizers citing inadequate government measures to ensure they avoid eviction. In Seattle, Kshama Sawant, a city councilperson and Democratic Socialist, has made supporting that city’s rent strikes a central feature of her tenure in office.

Participants also discussed the need for free, city-wide internet access, citing equity concerns and disparities created by the necessity for distance learning in Oakland’s classrooms.

Schools across the country have been forced to employ a host of measures to comply with governmental social-distancing orders, holding virtual classrooms online and communicating with students electronically. OEA officials, however, say that many of their students are being left behind due to lack of internet access.

In a demand letter to be sent to Mayor Libby Schaff, which was signed by over 170 school district workers and their supporters, School Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell, and the Oakland Unified School Board, the union said that 509 students at three schools alone had no internet access. At Global Family elementary, the letter said, 32 percent of the student body lacked an ability.

Union members also planned to walk off the job on May 1, an international holiday historically observed through workers’ celebrations and protests, in concert with longshore workers at the Port of Oakland and grocery store workers at Whole Foods, both of whom have planned a one day strike in observance of the holiday.

The OEA asks that anyone who can afford to do so donate a portion of their stimulus checks to Centro Legal de la Raza which administers a fund to support undocumented families ineligible for stimulus checks of their own and struggling to make ends meet.

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Nevin Long

Nevin Long

Nevin Long is a writer-reporter, film critic, and East Bay resident since 2009. When he's not slogging it in the rain after a mass demonstration he's writing about, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son, reading contemporary fiction, or kicking back and watching a movie so obscure not even the director's mother has heard of it.

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