LA Teacher Strike Looms as Bargaining Talks Continue

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A teachers’ strike is still on for the nation’s second-largest school district, but the union representing Los Angeles teachers says the walkout could be delayed if a judge sides with the school district, which claims the union did not notify it of the strike for later this week.

About 700,000 students at more than 10,000 schools will be impacted if nearly 30,000 teachers and school educators strike within the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Last month, the school district accused the United Teachers of Los Angeles of bad-faith bargaining with the state public employment board which is still pending.

Last week, a federal judge denied the school district’s request to keep special education faculty at work during the scheduled strike. The school district said nearly 30,000 special education students would be impacted by the strike, but U.S. District Judge Ronald Lew said the school district failed to articulate a legal basis for its claims against the union.

On Tuesday, the union will fight a claim from the school district that it did not give adequate notice on their plan to strike during bargaining talks.

“UTLA goes to court proactively this week to scuttle his third attempt at an injunction, based on a disingenuous claim that UTLA did not give sufficient notice of our intent to strike,” the union said in a statement.

They claim that Superintendent Austin Beutner is using the courts to stall the scheduled strike.

“Beutner is pursuing a flurry of desperate lawsuits because that’s who he has on his side: expensive anti-union lawyers,” the statement continued.

Union officials resumed bargaining talks with the school district on Monday, but resulted in little progress.

“It’s clear we are still deadlocked over the issues and an impasse between the two parties still exists,” the union said in a statement.

Alex Caputo Pearl, UTLA president, called Monday’s bargain talks “diplomatic” but “tense at times” in a press conference on Monday evening.

“We were surprised that the district came in today with so little to offer,” said Pearl to the press.

The union wants to see the school district use its $1.8 billion in reserves to reduce class sizes and bolster new hires including nurses, librarians and other staff. They’re also seeking a pay raise and a cap on public dollars that benefit charter schools across the district.

In a statement, the school district said it offered the union a reduction in class sizes and more than 1,000 new hires, including nurses, counselors and other educators.

That would include a hiring increase from $30 million to $105 million, but union officials argued there was no guarantee these would be long-term employees and any pay increase for teachers was contingent on changes to an employee’s health plan.

“We are extremely disappointed and frustrated that union leadership has turned down our offer and – once again – failed to put forth any proposal to try and resolve the issues of class size and salary,” the school district said in a statement.

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