LA teachers to go on strike unless last-minute deal is reached

Thousands of teachers in Los Angeles will go on strike Thursday unless a last-minute bargaining deal is worked out between the union and school district.

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and the Los Angles Unified School District have been locked in deep negotiations since the union publicly announced a Jan 10. strike last month, The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.

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The two groups are scheduled to meet Wednesday to determine if the school district was given the legally mandated 10-day notice that employees would not work under an existing contract.

The current contract, however, expired in June 2017 and union members have pledged to keep working as negotiations carried on, the newspaper noted.

The school district has offered teachers a 6 percent pay raise over the course of the first two years of a three-year contract.

The union has demanded a 6.5 percent immediate raise that would go into effect within a year.

"We have been in negotiations with LAUSD since April 2017. We have been working without a contract for almost one year," UTLA said in a statement. "Even with $1.86 billion in reserves, LAUSD says it does not have the money to improve our schools."

The district offered another $75 million to reduce class sizes and hire 700 additional teaching positions, nurses, counselors and librarians.

“We are extremely disappointed and frustrated that union leadership has turned down our offer and — once again — failed to put forth any proposal to try and resolve the issues of class size and salary,” the district said in a statement on Monday.

About 32,000 teachers and staff members as expected to go on strike if negotiations are not successful, CNN reported.

The district’s 600,000 students will still be expected to attend school and will be taught by more than 2,000 reassigned administrators and hundreds of substitute teachers.

Public support for teacher strikes remains high after a year that saw teacher strikes in ArizonaColoradoWest Virginia.

USA Today/Ipsos poll released in September found that 66 percent of Americans say that public school teachers have the right to strike for issues such as higher pay, better school funding and stronger benefits.