LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles Unified School District teachers Friday voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if labor negotiations with the district continue to stall, union officials announced.

United Teachers Los Angeles says 98 percent of its members who cast ballots voted in favor of a strike, which does not necessarily mean a walkout is imminent.

However, union leaders now have the right to call for a strike if labor talks with the district reach an impasse.

There has not been a teachers strike in the LAUSD since 1989.

Arlene Inouye, chair of the UTLA bargaining team, called the vote a “sharp rebuke” of LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner’s agenda to “starve our schools of resources, call them failures, opening the door to dismantling our school district.”

In response to the voting result, LAUSD issued a statement saying it “remains opposed to a strike and stands with students, families and employees to ensure learning and safety come first.”

Salary has been one part of the divide between the two sides. But the union has also called for steps to reduce class sizes and to increase accountability for charter schools.

The district says the union’s offer would increase the LAUSD’s existing $500 million deficit in the current school year by another $813 million.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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