National education and labor news

Los Angeles teachers poised to strike in January

line art, people standing in rows hand in hand

Teachers in Los Angeles plan to go on strike in January, barring a last-minute contract settlement. The contract dispute between the Los Angeles Unified school district and the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, entered its final phase in late November with the convening of a fact-finding panel, which has a month to submit nonbinding recommendations. Then, the school district can make a final offer, after which the union is free to strike.

The union is planning a “March for Public Education” on Dec. 15 to pressure the district to come to an agreement and to build support for a strike before schools close for the winter recess.

Teachers are asking for a 6.5 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2016, as well as class-size reductions, fewer required tests and more school nurses, counselors, social workers and librarians.

The district is offering teachers a 3 percent raise going back to July 1, 2017, plus an additional 3 percent retroactive to July 2018. It has offered to reduce class size in a handful of high-needs schools only.

The continuation of premium-free health care benefits for retirees and their spouses is another point of contention. The union said the district’s proposal would make it “more difficult to qualify for secure health care in retirement.”

“The district thinks they can buy us off with a modest pay raise, but our fight has never been just about salary,” said United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl. Los Angeles, with more than 600,000 students, is the second-largest district in the country, behind New York City. There hasn’t been a strike by teachers in Los Angeles since 1989.

Los Angeles Times, Oct. 12
Education Week, Nov. 20
NBC Los Angeles, Oct. 4

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