LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles Unified School District urged the teachers union to return to the bargaining table to avoid the first strike in the city since 1989, in a statement released Wednesday.

The statement issued by Superintendent Austin Beutner and the LAUSD board members says the United Teachers Los Angeles has “not been willing to engage in contract negotiations” since a neutral state-appointed party backed the district’s offer of a 6 percent raise and back pay for 2017-18 in a report issued on Dec. 17.

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“We are willing to work around the clock to resolve all of the outstanding issues, but we cannot make progress if UTLA will not even meet or engage in any discussions,” Beutner said in the statement.

Teachers, who are demanding a higher salary increase and a bigger investment in reducing class sizes, will go on strike starting Jan. 10 if no deal is reached. The district has planned for a possible strike by hiring hundreds of substitute teachers, a move that outraged UTLA.

The union replied to the LAUSD statement on its website, saying that UTLA “does not have a good faith partner in negotiations. In light of this, UTLA has not accepted the district’s offer to go back to the table.”

The union said they had not received a proposal since Oct. 30 and that they willing to bargain.

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David Tokofsky spent 12 years in the classroom teaching high school history and another 12 as a former member of the school board.

He says both sides need to come out of their corners and find common ground.

“They’re fighting and it’s like Cain and Abel. The same machinery. And they’re digging a hole deeper and deeper and unfortunately nobody in the larger community is saying ‘hey, let’s all work together,’ ” said Tokofsky.

Tokofsky says they are talking past each other.

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“The lack of communication. The lack of mediation. The lack of breaking bread and saying we’re all doing this for the right reasons,” said Tokofsky.