Teachers strike looms as union and LAUSD remain at odds

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – With no sign of renewed labor negotiations and the
union declaring an impasse, the Los Angeles Unified School District was on
the verge today of its first teachers strike in 30 years.
After a flurry of negotiations and public back-and-forth, United
Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl declared Friday night that the
union was “at an impasse” with the district, and barring a “demonstrably
different” contract proposal from LAUSD over the weekend, “we will be on
strike for our students, for our schools and for the future of public
education.”
The district issued a statement saying it was “extremely
disappointed” at the union’s rejection of the latest contract offer “without
proposing any counter-offer.”
“UTLA has refused to continue contract negotiations,” according to
the district. “More than 48 hours remain until Monday when UTLA plans to
strike, and 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.”
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, LAUSD Superintendent Austin 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 he 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 told reporters.
Beutner said 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.
Beutner said the contract offer represented a $130 million new
investment, up from an original $30 million offer and a more recent $105
million offer. He said the proposal would reduce high school and middle school
classes sizes by two.
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.

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