More than 30,000 public school employees in California are set to walk off their jobs on Monday unless Los Angeles district officials approve a package that meets union officials' funding demands.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Friday meetings between district officials and teachers union negotiators ended with no deal after the union rejected the city's most recent offer, which would have decreased class sizes and provided an in-school nurse at every Los Angeles-area elementary school.
Union officials quickly rejected that plan, the Times reports, while criticizing the district for offering piecemeal, temporary concessions that would expire in a year.
“Get ready,” United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl said at a Friday news conference, according to the Times. “Because on Monday we will go on strike for our students, for our schools and for the future of public education in Los Angeles.”
Los Angeles schools Superintendent Austin Beutner fired back, accusing the union of not negotiating in good faith and arguing that any further concessions would throw the district into bankruptcy.
“Show me the money, because we’re spending all we’ve got,” Beutner said, according to the Times. “If UTLA can find more money, we’ll invest it in the classroom.”
“If they want a strike, they’ll have a strike,” he added. “We’re doing everything we can to avoid it.”
Union officials are demanding that the hirings be made permanent and that teachers be offered a pay raise of 6.5 percent that would go into effect retroactively, affecting last year's pay. The state has countered with an offer to raise pay by 6 percent starting next year.
If the two sides do not reach a deal, an estimated 31,000 Los Angeles-area public school employees will begin striking on Monday, the first strike in the nation's second-largest school district in decades.
A spokesman for California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) confirmed to the Times that the governor was in contact with both sides of the dispute, and expressed hope that a solution would be found before Monday.
“The governor has been engaged in informal conversation with parties on both sides,” spokesman Nathan Click said. “Having been through strikes like this as a mayor, he is respectful of the process and hopes both sides can come together before Monday.”