Education

A Tentative Deal In The LA Teachers Strike — Now, Union Members To Vote

Teachers and supporters rally on Monday, Jan. 14, the first day of the teachers strike in Los Angeles. The school district and the union have come to a deal after almost two years of negotiations.
Teachers and supporters rally on Monday, Jan. 14, the first day of the teachers strike in Los Angeles. The school district and the union have come to a deal after almost two years of negotiations.
Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

On the sixth day of the Los Angeles teachers strike, the school district and union leaders announced that they've reached a tentative agreement.

"This is much more than just a narrow labor agreement. It's a very broad compact around things that get at social justice, educational justice and racial justice," United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said at a news conference Tuesday.

"The strike no one wanted is now behind us," said Austin Beutner, the city's school superintendent.

Teachers meanwhile remain on strike. The tentative deal won't become official until union members vote on the agreement, which Caputo-Pearl said will happen Tuesday afternoon and evening. During that time, the school board will also decide whether or not to ratify the deal, Beutner said. If both groups approve it, teachers will head back to class on Wednesday, Caputo-Pearl said.

Teachers went on strike on Monday, Jan. 14, after about two years of contract negotiations and over a year of working without a contract. As teachers took to the streets, talks went on hold. The school district and the union resumed negotiations on Thursday, ahead of the holiday weekend. The city's mayor, Eric Garcetti, facilitated negotiations, including a 21-hour session that ended in the early morning hours on Tuesday.

"For a city that embraced the idea that public education matters — that children matter, that teachers matter — today is a day full of good news," Garcetti said.

UTLA — which represents more than 30,000 teachers and school support staff — is striking for smaller classes, and more nurses, counselors and librarians in schools. District leaders previously said they just didn't have the money to pay for that.

The week before the strike, Beutner visited the state Capitol in Sacramento to ask for more funding for the district, and in many press events since, he's emphasized that 90 percent of the district's funding comes from the state of California.

At a Tuesday press conference, Caputo-Pearl and Beutner said that the tentative deal would increase teachers' salary, reduce class sizes, and put more support staff in schools — though they did not share details.

Caputo-Pearl also mentioned that the agreement touched on special education, standardized testing and keeping charter schools accountable.

Kyle Stokes of KPCC reports that according to Caputo-Pearl, class sizes will be reduced over the next few years. The union president also told Stokes that the tentative agreement would provide permanent funding for a full-time nurse on every school campus, though not all of the funding would roll out right away.

Los Angeles, is home to the country's second-largest school district and serves almost a half-million students. Most schools have remained open throughout the strike, staffed by administrators, volunteers and substitutes teachers.

However, attendance has been low during the strike, with less than a third of the students coming to school on some days, according to the district.

That's a problem because district funding from the state is linked to attendance. Each day of the strike means an estimated net loss of about $10 to $15 million dollars.

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