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Guide to the (Possible) LAUSD Teachers’ Strike

If you have a child in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I'm sure you're wondering if LAUSD teachers are going on strike and if they do, when it could happen.

If you have a child in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I’m sure you’re wondering if LAUSD teachers are going on strike and if they do, when it could happen. We don’t know the answer, but in case you haven’t been following the situation, we want to get you up to speed on what we know so far.

Summary:

As I write this, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is in contract negotiations with the teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). LAUSD is our nation’s second-largest school district. The Public Employment Relations Board of California (PERB) has mediated these contract negotiations. Now there is one last stage of negotiation that must happen before a strike could take place: fact-finding. 

In the fact-finding phase, an impartial arbitrator is brought in to look at evidence and determine a declaration in a sense of which side is right and which side is wrong. Fact-finders make recommendations about which side’s positions to adopt; though either side could choose to ignore these recommendations. A fact-finding panel is made up of a state-appointed chairperson, a UTLA-appointed representative, and a LAUSD-appointed representative. 

The Union claims there is enough money in reserves to meet all their demands, while the District maintains there is not adequate money in reserves. 

Los Angeles Unified School District teachers, under their union UTLA, turned out in  record-breaking numbers (83% of their members) to vote for a strike. 98% of voting teachers voted to authorize a strike if one becomes necessary. 

The District has reached agreements with other labor partners, representing about 65% of the District’s workforce. The last time LAUSD teachers went on strike was back in 1989. That strike lasted nine days. 

What LAUSD Teachers Want:

  • Teachers are asking for a 6.5% pay raise retroactive to July 1, 2016. 
  • Teachers are asking for a cap on class sizes. California teachers rank 48 out of 50 as having the largest class sizes in the nation with LAUSD teachers having among the largest class sizes in the state. 
  • Teachers are asking for increased discretion to determine when standardized assessments are given, and which assessments are given.
  • Teachers are asking for increased per-pupil funding. California is defined as the richest state in the nation, yet ranks 43 out of 50 in terms of per-pupil spending.
  • Teachers are asking for additional school staff, including nurses, counselors, librarians, and social workers. In LAUSD, the student-to-nurse ratio is 1,224:1 and there is a student-to-counselor ratio of 945:1.

What LAUSD Wants:

  • The District agrees that class sizes should be smaller, teachers should be paid more, and that schools should increase the number of nurses, counselors, and social workers on staff. However, the District and the Union disagree on how the District can pay for these.
  • The District is prepared to offer a 6% pay raise to teachers over two years; a 3% pay raise retroactive for the 2017-2018 school year, and another 3% for the 2018-2019 school year. 
  • The District has offered class-size reductions at 15 middle schools and 75 elementary schools that are deemed to have the “highest need.” 

What It Means for Families if Teachers Strike:

In the event of a strike, all LAUSD campuses will remain open and will be staffed by substitutes, reassigned administrators, and certificated and classified staff. 

Students are expected to continue attending school each day, and all school schedules (including after school programs and meals) will not change. 

Be sure all contact information you have on file at your child’s school is current and up-to-date (including all phone numbers and email addresses).  

Additionally, you can click here to access the District’s “Family Resource Guide: Preparing for a Potential Strike” on tips for how families can navigate this time. Families can use the guide to assist them in speaking with their children and explaining this situation to them. 

When Could a Strike Happen:

Fact-finding can take a couple of months or a few weeks. At the end of the fact-finding session, LAUSD and UTLA can once again go back to the bargaining table to meet with mediators. Or, each side can opt to choose their final option: a “last, best, and final” contract offer from the District and a call to strike from UTLA leadership. 

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1 comment

  1. Jose 25 October, 2018 at 08:31 Reply

    Thank you for the clear picture of what is going on during the contract negotiations. I just wanted to clarify that the district has only offered a 3% pay increase with another 3% increase contingent on whether the district believes it has enough funds to cover. As Beutner has made abundantly clear, he does not believe we have enough funds for any other increases; therefore, we can predict that this offer, if accepted, would really be for 3%. Beutner seems to be using the misleading 6% increase figure to portray the teachers as greedy, as opposed to advocates for our students who need smaller class sizes and support staff.

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