OAKLAND -- The school district's 2,400 teachers have a tentative agreement for a new contract that gives them a raise for the first time in five years.
It's the first time the district and the union have agreed on a contract since the 2005-08 contract was signed.
Teachers on Friday will vote on a one-year retroactive contract that ends July 1. It gives them a one-time payment of 2.35 percent of their salaries and a 1.5 percent raise.
"While this is not something that's making us dance in the streets, I really think it's an end to the chapter of no tentative agreements," said Trish Gorham, president of the Oakland Education Association, which represents teachers and all other employees who hold teaching certificates. "We're satisfied but not thrilled."
An additional 0.5 percent raise is contingent on state funding, and Gorham is "pretty confident" the union will get that too, based on signals coming from Sacramento.
The pay range for Oakland teachers is about $40,000 a year for a beginning teacher and around $70,000 for an experienced teacher at the top of the pay ladder.
Gorham said the contract is retroactive for this school year, and the union will go back to the bargaining table with the school district in the fall for a new three-year contract.
"Moving into the next year, we have a better understanding of the money coming in from the state, so all things are looking very positive," Gorham said.
School board member Gary Yee, who takes over as acting superintendent of Oakland schools July 1, said the bargaining teams worked all day Sunday to get the agreement. They had been meeting every other Tuesday for about a year.
"This is the first time in 10 years that the school board and the teachers union have negotiated a contract without arbitration, mediation or impasse," Yee said. "That's attributable to a new board, (outgoing superintendent) Tony Smith and the Oakland Education Association leadership."
Gorham said the last time Oakland teachers got a raise was in the 2005-08 contract, when they got a 1.25 percent increase. When that contract ended, the two sides negotiated for two years with no agreement, and the school district imposed the previous contract starting in 2010. That contract will end Friday if teachers vote for the new one.
The union did not negotiate health care premiums in this contract, so those will stay the same, Gorham said. In addition to the raise, teachers will get more leniency in requesting when they can take personal days, Gorham said.
"I'm very happy we have turned the page on the previous chapter, but we have to continue to fight and organize our members and the community to get a fair contract next fall that we deserve," Gorham said.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.