STUDIO CITY (CBSLA) — Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is urging the LAUSD and the union representing its teachers to “come together” to avoid a massive teachers’ strike.
United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) held a roundtable Saturday after announcing its members will strike on Monday following unsuccessful negotiations with the district, whose last and final offer it rejected on Friday.
The LAUSD said the offer would include a 6% raise and add 1,200 new teachers for the upcoming school year. It would also add $130 million in investments. The LAUSD superintendent said the new offer would reduce middle and high school classes by two.
The union secretary Arlene Inouye told the Hutchinson Report’s Earl Hutchinson it’s not enough.
“This is not just about salary. The district wants to make it about salary but this is about our students. It is about their learning conditions and for the educators’ working conditions,” Inouye said, adding, “We have the highest class sizes in the nation. We are 48 out of 50.”
District representatives were not at Saturday’s roundtable but former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told CBS2/KCAL9 he thinks a strike will be a lose-lose situation.
“I just think it’s wrong,” he said. “Both parties need to come together, go to Sacramento, that is where the money is. It is not at L.A. Unified. They made a generous offer — some believe beyond what they can afford — and the parties need to come together,” he urged.
UTLA is scheduled to hold a news conference on Sunday, a day before about 30,000 UTLA members are set to walk off the job.
It would be the first such strike in 30 years for the second largest school district in the nation, serving 600,000 students, following 20 months of unsuccessful negotiations.
UTLA had originally planned to start the strike Thursday, but announced Wednesday that it was pushing back the strike to Monday over a dispute regarding whether it had provided LAUSD with the legally-required 10-day strike notice.
At issue between the two sides has been pay, class size and the hiring of more support staff such as nurses, counselors and librarians. Negotiations have also hinged on the debate between public schools and privatizing schools through charters. The union wants to ensure that privatization doesn’t cut public school funding.
Another disagreement between the two sides is over a reported $1.8 billion district reserve. UTLA argues that the reserve could be tapped to pay for its demands, while Beutner has said the reserve has already been fully earmarked, including for the potential raises for teachers. He has argued the UTLA demands would push the district into insolvency.
Parents, meanwhile, are concerned over how schools will operate during the strike. Four hundred substitutes have been hired for the task and 2,000 administrators with teaching credentials have been reassigned. LAUSD also controversially eased background check requirements for parent volunteers.
Last week, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city has been preparing contingency plans to assist families in the event of a strike. Recreation centers, parks and libraries will be open as “safe places” where parents can bring their children on strike days. Metro will also be offering LAUSD students free rides on buses and trains on strike days. The L.A. Zoo will also be offering students free admission on strike days.
The district has established an information hotline for parents at 213-443-1300 to answer questions about the planned strike and its possible impact.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)