LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Officials with the Los Angeles teachers union may be inching closer to a potential strike after remarks made by a union official, according to reports.

Alex Caputo-Pearl, the newly elected president of United Teachers Los Angeles, drew cheers over the weekend at a convention of the American Federation of Teachers in downtown L.A. with remarks that characterized a work stoppage as a potentially effective part of broader social action to benefit students as well as their instructors, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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The 45-year-old Caputo-Pearl, who took office July 1, focused his remarks on “social movement unionism,” saying such a movement is “explicit about fighting for racial and social justice.”

“It’s a unionism that is willing to strike. It’s a unionism that is willing to build to a strike and strike if that’s what we need to do,” Caputo-Pearl said,  according to The Times.

He added that he’d already advised members by letter to begin putting aside savings for a possible strike, The Times reported.

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Caputo-Pearl, 45, spoke Saturday night as part of a panel that included other teachers union leaders, including Michael Mulgrew from New York City and Karen Lewis from Chicago.

Lewis, who sat to the right of Caputo-Pearl, led Chicago teachers on a 2012 strike, an experience for which she was celebrated at the convention, The Times reported.

As part of negotiations with the LAUSD that began in April, teachers are looking an overall 17.6 percent pay increases across “multiple years”, though the exact length of time sought was not immediately clear.

In late May, the union rejected an initial offer (PDF) of a 2 percent one-time salary payment for the 2013-14 school year, citing the passage of Proposition 30 which increased the LAUSD budget by nearly 6 percent, according to union officials.

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