Teachers across the Los Angeles Unified School District are heading to class today after a court battle delayed the threat of a massive walkout scheduled for Thursday. In response to the district's challenge in court, United Teachers Los Angeles announced a new strike date of January 14. Both sides are set to meet again on Friday.
"Our members are great. We've got teachers at all levels, we've got counselors of all levels, we've got librarians, we've got school psychologists, etcetera, who are so invested in this fight to protect public education and to actually expand the quality of education," said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl during a press conference on Wednesday. "Our members are so invested, I want to assure our members that this little delay does not in anyway indicate a lack of resolve."
According to the district, the court battle and subsequent delay of the strike is a result of the union not notifying the district of their intent to strike through the proper paperwork.
"This is a very technical issue," LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said during a press conference in Sacramento on Wednesday. "Both sides are governed by a collective bargaining agreement, the district is arguing that this agreement to this day is still in effect. UTLA has still not filed the proper paperwork to quit it, once they do, then they still have to wait 10 days before they can legally call for a strike. Of course, UTLA disagrees with this whole assertion. They are still calling on teachers to strike on Monday. We heard from UTLA's leader yesterday that they are not backing down."
Instead of coming together to negotiate to end the strike, both sides will be in court on Thursday determining the technicalities of the strike date. The contentious issues between both parties include the district's $1.8 billion surplus, which the union believes could be used to increase teacher's pay to 6.5 percent, hire more support staff including nurses and librarians, and reduce class sizes. The district says they are already running a deficit and cannot afford to meet the union's demands.
On Wednesday, the superintendent traveled to Sacramento to discuss details of the strike with Los Angeles' representatives.
"We went there first to make sure they understood what the fact finder understood, and understood the offer we have made to UTLA," Beutner said. "We asked for their help. We don't want a strike, we asked for our legislator to help us to be part of these conversations because they represent the same constituents that we serve in schools."
If no compromise is met by Friday and the court battle has not been settled, the union still plans to strike on Monday.