DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Representatives from the Los Angeles Unified School District and the teachers’ union resumed their fifth straight day of marathon talks at City Hall Monday as they look to end the first teachers’ strike in three decades.
The latest session between the district and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) began at 9:15 a.m., less than nine hours after ending their previous one. The two sides met from 11 a.m. Sunday to just after midnight Monday, with the office of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti acting as a mediator in hopes of ending the stalemate.
Garcetti tweeted Monday afternoon that both parties had made “tremendous progress.”
“We are making progress,” UTLA said in a statement earlier Monday. The details of the talks have been kept under wraps since the round-the-clock negotiations began Thursday.
“We resumed talks early this morning,” UTLA wrote. “It is important to know, whether or not we reach an agreement late tonight, we will NOT be going to work. Report to picket lines as usual in the morning on Tuesday.”
After 21 months of unsuccessful talks, about 30,000 LAUSD teachers went on strike Jan. 14. While students are off Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, they will return to class Tuesday, to substitute teachers, if a deal is not reached.
Just after 10 p.m. Sunday, Garcetti tweeted: “Today was a productive day of negotiations with UTLA and LAUSD. All parties reaffirm their commitment to continuing negotiations into the night and into tomorrow to resolve the remaining issues as soon as possible.”
There was no announcement on what had been achieved. But the union circulated a poster online that read: “Strike continues on Tuesday.” No details have been released about potential revised contract offers that may have been placed on the table over the past three days.
Superintendent Austin Beutner Friday stressed the need for the district and union to come to an agreement over the weekend so schools can reopen at full strength.
“We need our educators and our students back in school on Tuesday morning,” Beutner said. “So the onus is us. The onus is on us as leaders to do what we have to do in the next 48, 72 hours to make sure schools are open and educators and students are back in school on Tuesday.”
The strike is costing the district tens of millions of dollars. On the first day of the strike, only a third of the more than 600,000 students served by LAUSD showed up for class, costing the district $25 million, according to Beutner.
The teachers’ union appeared ready to continue walking picket lines this week.
“We are going to work relentlessly this weekend in negotiations,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl told a crowd during a Friday morning rally. “But we have to come back on Tuesday with our picket lines even stronger than this week.”
Four hundred substitutes have been hired to fill in during the strike and 2,000 administrators with teaching credentials have been reassigned. LAUSD also controversially eased background check requirements for parent volunteers.
At issue between the two sides has been pay, class size and the hiring of more support staff such as nurses, counselors and librarians. LAUSD has offered a 6 percent pay hike retroactive to July 1, 2016, while UTLA is demanding a 6.5 percent salary increase. 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.
LAUSD’s teachers last went on strike in 1989.
The district has established an information hotline for parents at 213-443-1300 to answer questions about the strike and its possible impact.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)