LOS ANGELES (CN) - The Los Angeles public school teachers’ union rejected the district’s latest labor contract offer Friday after a fruitless bargaining session ended, and walked off the job Monday morning.
Los Angeles Unified School District said in a statement that its revised offer, centered on a $130 million budget increase for the upcoming school year, would add 1,200 more educators, nurses and librarians to schools and reduce class size by two students in all middle and high schools.
The district statement, which had previously proposed a $105 million increase and 6 percent salary increase plus back pay for 2018, added that it wants to avoid a strike but can’t afford the contract demands from United Teachers Los Angeles.
“UTLA’s contract demands have remained essentially unchanged since April 2017, and those demands would bankrupt Los Angeles Unified,” the district said, adding that the union refuses to continue negotiations and hasn’t proposed a counter offer.
But UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said at a press conference Friday that the district’s latest offer won’t end the strike threat since its only valid for one year.
The union wants the district use its $1.8 billion reserve to reduce class sizes, add nurses to every school campus and cap the amount of public dollars that benefit charter schools across the district.
The district hasn’t answered requests for key reports backing up figures for the latest offer, but the union would be receptive of any district proposal from now until Monday if it is “demonstrably different,” Caputo-Pearl said.
Barring anything short of a surprise from the district, Caputo-Pearl urged teachers and their allies to "get ready because come Monday, we will be on strike."
In a statement, the district said it was disappointed by the union’s rejection.
“More than 48 hours remain until Monday when UTLA plans to strike, and we implore UTLA to reconsider,” the statement said. “A strike will harm the students, families and communities we serve, and we have a responsibility to resolve the situation without a strike.”
More than 30,000 public school teachers are expected to join the picket lines en masse across the city Monday, the first time since 1989 that educators in Los Angeles have done so.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has offered to mediate negotiations or provide neutral space to both parties, said in a statement that he was disappointed by Friday’s bargaining result.
"I am disappointed that today's discussions have ended and I strongly urge both parties to consider returning to the negotiating table for talks over the weekend for the sake of our children, our teachers, and our schools,” the mayor said, adding that city resources would be extended to families during the strike.
The city will extend hours for 32 public recreation centers and libraries that will also provide lunch and adult supervision to students until the union reaches an agreement with the district. Parents must sign up to access the programs.
With more than 700,000 students across 10,000 schools affected by the strike, Garcetti said that public transit systems will also provide free transportation from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. to students who show their school IDs.
LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said at a press conference earlier in the day that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has offered to use $10 million in county funds to ensure that all public schools have nurses on campus five days a week.
“If the $10 million is there now, it will be there in three weeks after we resolve the disputes here,” Caputo-Pearl said.
The district’s revised offer was backed by news that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2019-20 budget would include a $3 billion increase in statewide funding for public education.
Though Beutner said he didn’t know how much of that money would be allocated for the district, Caputo-Pearl said Friday that California state budget office staffers have told him that the district would receive $140 million.
No negotiations have been set for the weekend.
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