LOS ANGELES – A massive strike by teachers in Los Angeles, the country's second largest school district, is anything but inevitable from Monday after the two parties have not extended the weekend negotiations.
The talks fell off on Friday when the teachers' union had a & # 39; woefully inadequate & # 39; rejected new offer from the LA Unified School District.
As no new discussions are planned, pick-ups are likely to start at 7 a.m., because teachers stick to points such as higher wages and smaller classes.
Schools remain open if a drop-out occurs. The district, with 640,000 students, has hired hundreds of substitutes to replace teachers and others leaving for picket lines.
The union said it was "irresponsible" to rent subs and called on parents to consider keeping their students at home or participating with demonstrators if a strike occurs.
The district's latest offer consisted of adding nearly 1,200 teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians to schools, reducing the size of classes by two students and limiting class sizes to between 32 and 39 students, depending on age and study program.
In this photo of Saturday, December 15, 2018, thousands of teachers gather against the second largest school district of the nation in downtown Los Angeles. A massive teacher strike in Los Angeles is anything but inevitable from Monday, January 14, 2019, after the two parties have not renewed negotiations on weekends. The teachers' union rejected a new offer from the LA Unified School District on Friday after hours of discussions. United Teachers Los Angeles called the district proposal & # 39; hopelessly inadequate & # 39 ;. If no new calls are planned, pick-ups will probably start at 7 a.m., while teachers insist on an increase and lower classes. (AP Photo / Damian Dovarganes)
The offer also included the previously proposed salary increase of 6 percent over the first two years of a three-year contract.
The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, wants an increase of 6.5 per cent that would come into effect in one go and with retroactive effect to fiscal 2017. According to Union officials, some of the district's proposals would expire after one year. and to call it disrespectful.
"We are in a stalemate," trade union chairman Alex Caputo-Pearl said on Friday.
District officials said it begged the trade union to reconsider and added that it rejected the new offer without offering a counter-offer.
"A strike harms the students, families and communities we serve, and we have the responsibility to resolve the situation without a strike," the district said.
A majority of the 35,000 members of the UTLA are expected to join the work stoppage.
Abram van der Fluit, a Los Angeles teacher who was against the strike, said in a statement Sunday that colleagues who agree with him are "afraid" to speak out against the union. He is a former UTLA member and is currently part of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, which describes itself as a non-partisan source of information for teachers and the public.
"I do not support the motives for the strike as expressed by UTLA," he said. "I do not believe that the reasons for the strike should be our priorities, as teachers."
Van der Fluit, a 20-year-old LAUSD veteran who teaches biology in high school, said the trade union should give priority to other issues, including making vocational training accessible and offering options for students who want to pursue a career that does not necessarily requires a university degree.
Much of the bitterness between the district and the union centers around the new superintendent, Austin Beutner. The investment banker and former deputy mayor of Los Angeles took up the job last year without any experience in education.
The trade union claims that Beutner is trying to privatize the district, encourage school closures and convert public schools into charter schools. Charters are private public schools that compete with the school system for students and the funds that they collect.
Beutner said that his plan to reorganize the district would improve the service to students and families.
The teachers use a shift in public sentiment that supports better wages for educators with a Red4Ed & # 39; movement that began last year in West Virginia, where a strike resulted in an increase. The movement spread to the state of Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, Arizona and Washington.
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In this Saturday, December 15, 2018, photo, thousands of teachers rallied against the nation's second-largest school district in downtown Los Angeles. A massive teacher strike in Los Angeles is anything but inevitable from Monday, January 14, 2019, after the two parties have not renewed negotiations on weekends. (AP Photo / Damian Dovarganes)
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