Talks seeking to end Los Angeles teachers
strike enter fourth day
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[January 21, 2019]
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Bargaining teams
for striking Los Angeles teachers and the second-largest U.S. school
district were back behind closed doors on Sunday as negotiations to end
a walkout disrupting classes for some 500,000 students stretched into a
More than 30,000 teachers walked off the job last Monday in their first
strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District in three decades,
demanding higher pay, smaller class sizes and the hiring of more support
The union has also called for curbing the steady expansion of
independently managed charter schools, arguing they divert resources
from traditional classroom instruction for the bulk of the district's
District Superintendent Austin Beutner has insisted he shares many of
the teachers' goals but contends the district lacks the budget to meet
union demands fully without securing additional funds from the state
The president of the United Teachers Los Angeles union, Alex
Caputo-Pearl, says budget constraints cited by Beutner have been
Officials from both sides of the dispute credit the striking teachers
with helping reawaken the public, the media and politicians to
widespread difficulties facing schools in California and elsewhere.
Last year saw a wave of teacher walkouts over salaries and school
funding in several U.S. states, including West Virginia, Oklahoma and
Arizona. The Los Angeles work stoppage differs in that educators face a
predominantly Democratic political establishment more sympathetic to
Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose office is mediating the Los Angeles talks,
said in a statement that the negotiations, which resumed on Sunday, were
"productive." But there has been no word on progress as all parties
abide by a news blackout.
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More than 30,000 Los Angeles teachers hold a rally at the City Hall
after going on strike, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 14,
2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
After five days of picketing and rallies across the city, the
union's rank and file were pausing from strike activities over the
three-day holiday weekend but have vowed to return to the picket
lines on Tuesday if no deal is reached.
Beutner said on Friday he was determined to clinch a settlement in
time for teachers to return to work on Tuesday. He said if the
strike were to drag into a second week, the district would keep all
1,200 of its schools open on a limited basis for those students who
have no place else to go.
According to a tweet from the district on Saturday, 80 percent of
its students live in poverty and at least 16,000 are homeless.
Labor tensions have been simmering in other school districts across
the country. The teachers' union in Denver held a strike
authorization vote on Saturday after rejecting a contract offer.
Results will be announced on Tuesday. A strike vote by teachers in
Oakland, California, also was expected later this week.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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