The union representing 33,000 Los Angeles Unified School District teachers announced Wednesday it will go on strike Jan. 10 if no labor deal with the district is reached.
United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said there has been no movement from the district on key issues for months, and the union has reached the point of “enough is enough.” He said the union has “not accepted the district’s offer to go back to the table.”
“We’re not going to go back and do what we’ve already done for 20 months and sustain more disrespect,” he said.
Caputo-Pearl said the union will strike “unless we seen an addressing of the crucial issues that shape education,” such as class sizes, hiring of nurses and counselors, “common-sense regulation” on charter schools and reductions in standardized testing.
If the union does walk out, it will be the first LAUSD teachers strike since 1989.
The announcement came one day after the release of a fact-finders report that sparked more verbal jawing between UTLA and the district.
The fact-finding report recommended adoption of a 6 percent salary increase, with 3 percent retroactive to July 1, 2017, and the other 3 percent retroactive to July 1, 2018. The LAUSD issued a statement Tuesday morning saying the teachers’ union “has agreed to the 6 percent salary raise” and suggesting the agreement on that issue “can provide the basis for a reasonable settlement of the remaining items.”
On Tuesday afternoon, however, UTLA issued a response insisting “no agreement — salary or otherwise — has been reached between UTLA and LAUSD.”
Caputo-Pearl reiterated that stance Wednesday, accusing LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner of engaging in “stunts.”
“He continues to try to bargain through the media,” Caputo-Pearl said. “He claims offers were made that were never made. He even said we agreed on a salary that we didn’t.”
UTLA officials have repeatedly stressed that salary was only one part of the contract dispute. The union has been pushing for a 6.5 percent pay increase retroactive to July 1, 2016.
But the union is also demanding contract language limiting class sizes; calling for more hiring of nurses, counselors and librarians; reductions in standardized testing; and accountability measures for charter schools.
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 Beutner, saying LAUSD has a “record breaking” reserve fund of about $1.8 billion that should be tapped to make improvements in school staffing.
The fact-finder’s report recommended that the district allocate funds — estimated by the district at $30 million — to reduce class sizes and hire more nurses, librarians and counselors. It also calls for the creation of a working group so the district and UTLA can develop contract language relating to class sizes.
“There is no doubt that the union’s demands at this point are expensive and the parties are not in agreement on how to cost this item, which will be key to its resolution,” according to the report. “My recommendation for settlement involves the dedication of a percentage of money to be used for the employment of teachers and other staff to reduce class size and provide additional student access to the services of librarians, nurses and professional staff.”
The district’s Tuesday morning statement stressed that a teachers’ strike “would harm students, families and communities most in need.”
“Los Angeles Unified believes the Fact Finder Report and the agreement on 6 percent can provide the basis for a reasonable settlement of the remaining items and hopes UTLA will engage in good-faith bargaining to find an agreement,” according to the district.
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