Teachers in Hayward, Calif., went out on strike over a classic issue: Could the district afford to raise their salaries?
What’s more, the settlement of the 10-day walkout, which came last week, was equally classic. The teachers will be getting raises bigger than the district offered, but smaller than the teachers’ union had demanded in the first rounds of negotiation. The two sides settled on an 11 percent raise over two years.
In the four previous years, teacher had given up all but the most meager raises while the financially troubled district of 20,000 students got back on its feet. Then, district leaders boosted the salaries of Superintendent Dale Vigil’s top two lieutenants. A state-appointed fact-finder agreed with the district, on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, that it could not do the same for teachers, and more talks followed, culminating in a strike April 5.
For all the familiarity from labor disputes past, there was something new in Hayward, though.
Leaders of the Hayward Education Association pointed to the Web site YouTube as a strategic weapon in bolstering community support and keeping strikers’ enthusiasm high. Some 98 percent of teachers walked, according to the union, and only about 20 percent of students attended school, the district estimated. Parents had just organized a support group when the strike ended.
A team of middle school teachers posted four episodes of “The Truth” on the video-sharing site. The mock news program featured two teachers as reporters working in both English and Spanish amid shots of picket lines. One student interviewed described the first day of state tests at Hayward High School as “chaotic.”
Other posts recorded strike rallies, including one featuring an effigy of the superintendent with the Beatles’ “Revolution” as background music, and another of teachers on bikes delivering “healthy snacks” to picketers.
And yet the largely unregulated YouTube site may have set a trap or two. One student, as goofy as only a 10-year-old boy can be, contributed his own video purporting to show how he spent his time during a strike day at home—pantomiming the words of Muse’s “Time Is Running Out,” for instance, and using a sock puppet.
“The teachers aren’t getting enough pay, or something,” the bespectacled cutie says into the camera. “So strikes are bad. That’s the moral of the story.”
A version of this article appeared in the May 02, 2007 edition of Education Week