30,000 LA teachers go on strike over wages, class size

With no new talks, Los Angeles teacher strike all but inevitable

With no new talks, Los Angeles teacher strike all but inevitable

The walkouts in other states emboldened organized labor after a critical defeat at the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled past year that government workers can't be required to join unions and pay dues.

"Los Angeles Unified did not want a strike and offered UTLA leaders a $565 million package to significantly reduce class sizes, add almost 1,200 educators in schools, and provide all UTLA members with 6% salary raises", according to the LAUSD statement.

When school starts in Los Angeles Monday, teachers won't be in the classroom - they'll be outside, picketing with parents and students in the first teacher strike in 30 years.

With no bargaining done during the weekend, the union called the strike for Monday, its first walkout in almost 30 years.

During a walkout students are still expected to attend school every day, with school hours and meals remaining unchanged.

The district has hired 400 substitute teachers and is sending 2,000 credentialed administrators back into the classroom during the strike.

The offer also included the district's previously proposed 6 percent salary increase over the first two years of a three-year contract.

The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, wants a 6.5 percent hike that would take effect all at once and be retroactive to fiscal 2017.

The district, the second-largest in the United States, is on the brink of financial insolvency, the union said.

"We're in a battle for the soul of public education", said UTLA President Alex Pearl-Caputo.

TRT World's Mary MacCarthy reports from Los Angeles. He's a former UTLA member and now part of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, which describes itself as a nonpartisan information source for teachers and the public.

"Los Angeles Unified did not want a strike", a district statement said. "I don't believe that the reasons for the strike should be our priorities, as teachers".

The teachers are tapping into a shift in public sentiment that supports better wages for educators that came with a "Red4Ed" movement that began past year in West Virginia, where a strike resulted in a raise.

School officials say that while they have a sizable reserve now at about $1.8 billion, that money will dwindle in the next few years because of growing pension and health-care benefit costs and that the price tag of the union's demands would bankrupt the district. Early education centers will be open only to special-needs students, and state preschools will be closed.

Much of the acrimony between the district and the union centres around the new superintendent, Austin Beutner.

Beutner has said his plan to reorganise the district would improve services to students and families. Charters are privately operated public schools that compete with the school system for students and the funds they bring in. The movement spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, Arizona and Washington state.

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