L.A. teachers plan first strike in 30 years

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The teachers of the Los Angeles Unified School
District pledged to go ahead with the first teachers strike in Los Angeles in
30 years today, while administrators vowed to keep schools open using
substitutes and district employees with teaching credentials.
“As you know, a strike is a last resort,” United Teachers Los
Angeles secretary and negotiations team co-chair Ilene Inouye said at a 4:30
p.m. Sunday news conference, in which she placed the blame for the impasse
squarely on LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner.
LAUSD officials expressed disappointment with UTLA’s strike plans and
reminded parents that the district’s schools will remain open during the work
stoppage. State preschool sites will be closed, and early education centers
will be open for students with special needs.
“We are extremely disappointed that UTLA has rejected @LASchools
revised offer without proposing any counter offer,” District officials said on
Friday after making their last offer. “UTLA has refused to continue contract
negotiations. … We implore UTLA to reconsider. A strike will harm the
students, families and communities we serve, and we have a responsibility to
resolve the situation without a strike.”
Picketing is scheduled to begin at 7:30 a.m. today, coinciding with a
news conference at John Marshall High School, 3939 Tracy St., according to the
UTLA.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Janice Hahn
announced Sunday that she will picket today with striking UTLA members at
Dodson Middle School in Rancho Palos Verdes.
A rally and march is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday starting at Grand
Park on Spring Street in front of City Hall, heading downtown to LAUSD
headquarters, 333 South Beaudry Ave. More picketing by teachers, parents and
students is set for between 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in front of Marianna Avenue
Elementary School, 4215 Gleason St. union officials said.
The proceedings will wrap up with a 5 p.m. news conference at UTLA
headquarters at 3303 Wilshire Blvd., organizers said. UTLA said it will stream
most events live on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
UTLA and District negotiators met behind closed doors for about four
hours Friday afternoon, but made no progress in contract talks.
In the midst of the session, Beutner held a news conference to
announce the District’s latest contract offer. Union officials criticized the
move, saying Beutner gave the proposal to the media before presenting it to the
UTLA negotiating team and never actually attended the bargaining session.
Beutner said the revised offer was crafted after Gov. Gavin Newsom
released a proposed 2019-20 budget increasing public education spending. The
District’s contract proposal is a roughly $24 million increase from the its
previous offer, with $10 million expected to come from the county and the rest
anticipated through the state budget process, Beutner said.
The proposal would add 1,200 new teachers for the upcoming school
year, which is an increase from the District’s previous offer of 1,000, and
would help reduce and cap class sizes, Beutner said, adding the District likely
won’t be able to offer much more, given the LAUSD’s financial constraints.
“This represents the best we can do, recognizing that it is our
obligation to provide as much resources as possible to support out students in
each and every one of our schools,” Beutner said.
According to Beutner, the funds would cap middle and high school
English/math classes at 39 students, cap grades four through six at 35 students
and maintain all other existing class sizes. He also said the funds would
provide library services at every middle school, nursing services at all
elementary schools five days a week and add an academic counselor at every
comprehensive high school.
UTLA bargaining chair Arlene Inouye said the union was “insulted” by
the District’s “woefully inadequate” offer, saying the new hires in the
proposal would only be budgeted for one year.
Reducing class sizes has been one of UTLA’s demands, although
disagreements about a pay raise, the staffing level of nurses, counselors and
librarians, and other issues have also been areas of conflict in more than two
years of contract negotiations. Underlying the talks is the issue of privately
operated charter schools — which are governed by state law. The union has
decried Charters for bleeding away students and money from the District, and
has accused Beutner of working to vastly expand the number of Charter schools.

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