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Teachers Strike Update: Both Sides Due in Court on Tuesday After Last-Minute Negotiations Fall Apart

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he Los Angeles school district and the union representing 34,000 educators once again failed to bridge differences over a new employment contract in last-minute talks Monday at LAUSD headquarters in downtown L.A. The strike could start as early as Thursday.

The district said it increased its offer to $105 million to reduce class sizes by hiring some 1,000 additional staff members including teachers, counselors, nurses, and librarians. Its previous offer was $30 million. The union said the offer accounts for less than one new employee per school, which they argue is not enough to stem growing class sizes.

They met as some 600,000 L.A. students returned to classes Monday with the city on the verge of its first teachers strike in a generation.

The union and district will meet again Wednesday. They are not meeting Tuesday because they are scheduled to fight in court over whether UTLA gave enough legal notice in announcing the strike, which could delay a walkout by at least four days.

The teachers announced the January 10 strike date on December 19.

“We are extremely disappointed and frustrated that union leadership has turned down our offer and – once again – failed to put forth any proposal to try and resolve the issues of class size and salary,” the district said in a statement immediately following the 11th-hour talks.

The district’s proposal today was unacceptable to the union because it continues to tie the salary increases to a cut in health care for future employees, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “It continues to not take seriously the issue of privatization and unregulated charter growth which is undermining the public school district to the tune of about $600 million per year,” Caputo-Pearl said in a press conference after talks.

The two sides agreed to meet again Wednesday morning at LAUSD headquarters. “We cannot meet tomorrow because we have to be in court tomorrow to fight for our right to strike,” Caputo-Pearl said.

The start date for the strike has been challenged by the district based on alleged “insufficient notice of intent to strike,” an assertion union officials are calling “desperate” and “disingenuous.”

If the school district succeeds with the injunction, it could delay the strike by a few days, Caputo-Pearl said. “He [Beutner] is desperate to contain our collective power and the only way he knows how to do it is through costly legal maneuver,” the union leader said.

RELATED: Crying ‘Scabstitute!’ ~ Union Rallies Substitute Teachers Ahead of Possible Strike

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