Thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers and their supporters marched through downtown in a show of strength as their union moves closer to calling the district’s first teachers’ strike since 1989.
Saturday’s March for Public Education was billed by the United Teachers Los Angeles union as a demand that the district “give our students a chance and stop starving our schools.”
The march began with a rally at Grand Park across from Los Angeles City Hall, then moved south on Spring Street, west on First Street, south on Broadway, west on Third Street, north on Flower Street, east on First Street, then south on Grand Avenue, ending at the Broad Museum — namesake of noted charter-school supporter Eli Broad.
“Amidst the wealth of Los Angeles, we should not have class sizes of 45 students,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl told the crowd from a truck flatbed. After 20 months of negotiations with District officials, “the time draws closer to taking dramatic action,” he added.
UTLA is at loggerheads with the LAUSD in contract talks, which already have been through state mediation and are now in a fact-finding stage.
When the fact-finding report is released, the union may call a strike that was authorized by UTLA members in August.
In October, the union rejected the District’s latest contract offer, which included a 3 percent pay raise retroactive to 2017-18, plus a guaranteed 3 percent raise for 2018-19.
The offer also included language governing class sizes, but the union blasted that language as actually clearing a path for increasing class size.
Union officials also said the offer fails to address demands such as hiring more nurses, counselors and librarians; reductions in standardized testing; and accountability measures for charter schools.
The union has been asking for a 6.5 percent pay increase retroactive to July 1, 2016.
District officials previously said the union’s contract proposal would increase the district’s $500 million deficit during the current school year by another $813 million.
In response, the union has criticized the district and Superintendent Austin Beutner, saying LAUSD has a “record breaking” reserve fund of about $1.8 billion that should be tapped to make improvements in school staffing.
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