Teachers union chief: LA teachers willing to strike 'as long as it takes' to reach deal

The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said on Thursday that the Los Angeles teachers union is prepared to go on strike next week for as long as it takes to reach a deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).  

Weingarten said that the strike was being planned because of what teachers see as a lack of resources, including frustration over class sizes and salaries. She also pointed to a shortage of school counselors and nurses.

“The teachers are very resolute,” Weingarten, a former teacher and lawyer, told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”

“They are ready to as long as it takes, they want to change the circumstances,” she continued.

Weingarten stressed that LAUSD teachers do not take this strike lightly, emphasizing that a strike is “always a last resort.”

“Teachers want to teach, they do not want to go on strike — it was in West Virginia, it was in Arizona, it was in Oklahoma, it is here as well,” she said, referencing similar movements that took place is public school districts all across the country last year.

She also said that that the strike is over conditions, "over making it better for children, so teachers can teach." 

More than 30,000 members of the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union are expected to walk off the job next week. 

The strike was initially planned to take place on Thursday, but UTLA leaders postponed the walkout following a legal challenge from the LAUSD over whether the union gave a legally mandated 10-day strike notice. 

Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl, meanwhile, insisted that the strike would move forward on Monday unless both sides are able to come to an agreement.

The teacher's union president argues that UTLA needs to start making public schools more of a priority.

“Wrap services around schools in a neighborhood and make the neighborhood public schools a school that parents want to send their kids to, so this is a matter of making neighborhood public schools a priority,” she told Hill.TV.

Union leaders like Weingarten contend that too much of the districts resources are going to charter schools and maintain that there’s money in reserves that can be tapped. A claim that the district has denied. 

Weingarten advocates for finding a solution, so public and charter schools can coexist.

“We have to find ways for charters and public schools to live together,” she said. “But don’t deprioritize, don’t defund the public schools or take away the resources for neighborhood public schools for other purposes.”

—Tess Bonn