A judge has ruled that a teacher’s strike pushed to Monday can move forward, despite claims by the Los Angeles Unified District that the union did not give them enough notice.
The strike, originally scheduled to start Thursday, follows two years of negotiating, mediation and a fact-finding session between LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). The district had made a last-ditch effort to block or disrupt the strike by filing for an injunction, alleging the union did not give them a legally-required 10-day notice of a strike.
Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said the strike would occur Monday unless the union sees a “serious” proposal by then. Another round of talks between UTLA and the LAUSD was scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m.
“Regardless of Austin Beutner’s attempts to take away our legal right to strike, our ability to act collectively as a union is not just confirmed by a Superior Court judge but by our members coming together to fight for what’s right in this moment,” Caputo-Pearl said in a statement Thursday. “Our students who deserve so much more than Beutner’s austerity agenda; and our parents and community, who join us in our belief that public education in Los Angeles must be saved now.”
LAUSD issued its own statement in response to the ruling:
“Los Angeles Unified urges UTLA to work with us and the communities of Los Angeles to resolve contract issues and avoid a strike.”
Union and district leaders met face-to-face at LAUSD headquarters for about five hours Wednesday but emerged from the negotiations still far apart on key issues.
The LAUSD has offered teachers a 6-percent raise spread over the first two years of a three-year contract, while UTLA wants a 6.5-percent raise that would take effect all at once and a year sooner.
UTLA also says it wants “fully staffed” schools with more nurses, librarians and counselors added to the payrolls, along with pledges to reduce class sizes.
On Monday, the LAUSD raised its previous offer by $75 million to add more than 1,000 staff members to schools and help decrease class sizes, up from an initial offer of $30 million. Caputo-Pearl argued the offer would not make a significant impact and could actually end up raising class sizes, because the spending plan for that would only last one year.
Another disagreement between the two sides is over a reported $1.8 billion reserve the district has. UTLA argues that the reserve could be tapped to pay for its demands, while Superintendent Austin Beutner has said the reserve has already been fully earmarked, including for the potential raises for teachers.
Should a strike occur, it would be the first teacher walkout for LAUSD since 1989.
As the second largest school district in the nation, it covers an area totaling 710 square miles and serves over 694,000 students at 1,322 schools, although 216 schools are independent charter schools, most of which are staffed with non-union teachers that would not be affected by the strike.
The district says about 500,000 students and 1,100 schools will be impacted by the strike.