Los Angeles-area teachers walk out of schools over pay, class size

UPDATE — 1/22, 1:42 p.m. EST: Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday local teachers’ union negotiators have reached a deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District to increase educator salaries, decrease classroom sizes and add school staffers who handle miscellaneous duties.

While teachers still must vote to end the strike, UTLA’s president said he expects terms of the deal to be approved by the rank-and-file members.

 

Los Angeles educators went on strike Monday for the first time in 30 years in protest over annual wages, class size and the insistence the school district meets demands over staffing needs.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second-largest in the nation.

A strike affecting over 600,000 students, approximately 31,000 educators with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) refused to show up for work Monday after contentious negotiations with city officials failed to produce a new employee contract.

Los Angeles Unified School District is the second-largest district in the nation.

Apart from classroom educators, UTLA compromises school nurses, librarians and support staff.

Ahead of the strike, a judge’s ruling cleared the way for the walkout, deciding against Los Angeles’ contention union officials had not adhered to a rule requiring a 10-day notice to the city prior to striking.  The three-week negotiation prior to the strike ended when school officials’ last offer to form a new contract was rejected by the union.

In a last-ditch effort to avert a strike, LAUSD offered one nurse at every school, minor reductions in class size at schools at all levels and additional library and counseling staff at middle and high schools.

Similarly, LAUSD proposed a three-year contract with a six-percent pay increase and the vow to hire over 1,200 new teachers and staff.

Rejecting the plan, UTLA representatives said the proposal insufficiently met their demand for a two-year agreement with a 6.5 percent pay raise.

Despite the strike, classes resumed on all levels in most schools, as city education officials prepared for the walkout.

In advance of the strike, LAUSD opted to keep schools open, staffing classrooms with qualified substitutes.  School officials decided to suspend all extra-curricular activities, but after-school programs will continue.  The district also took steps to expand online education during the strike.

While negotiations between the Unified School District and United Teachers Los Angeles are ongoing, protests have occurred at 900 schools and City Hall with approximately 20,000 participants.

California is the eighth state to experience a teachers’ strike over the past year.

On Wednesday, musician and actor Steven Van Zandt spoke at a teachers’ rally to advocate for the funding of the arts in Los Angeles’ schools.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since its original publication.

 

[NBC News] [Los Angeles Times] [ABC News] [Photo courtesy Reuters/Mike Blake via CNBC]