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L.A. Teachers To Strike Jan. 10: Union Launches Fusillade of Attacks Over Fact-Finding ‘Lies’

UTLA and their supporters marched by the thousands last month to the steps of City Hall. All photos by Philip Iglauer.

[dropcap size=big]L[/dropcap]os Angeles schools are supposed to be on winter vacation, but the atmosphere is teeming with acrimony and strife as teachers, amid a volley of accusations against the district, set a firm date — Jan. 10, 2019 — on which they will launch the first teachers strike in 30 years.

“We’ve reached a point where enough is enough. We’ve established Jan. 10 as a strike date,” Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said during a press conference at the union’s office in downtown L.A.

UTLA represents some 33,000 teachers, and its members months ago voted to authorize a strike if an agreement could not be reached.

“We have not accepted the district’s offer to go back to the table. We are not going to go back to do what we’ve already done for 20 months and sustain more disrespect to students and members.”

The union’s declaration and definitive line in the sand comes one day after the state released a fact-finding report Tuesday that recommended the adoption of the district's offer of a 6 percent salary increase, with 3 percent retroactive to July 1, 2017, and another 3 percent retroactive to July 1, 2018.

UTLA is holding out for a 6 percent raise retroactive across the board, reduced class sizes, and a scale back on charter school co-locations on public school campuses, among other things. 

RELATED: UTLA-LAUSD Fact-Finding Report

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl (left) and L.A. schools superintendent Austin Beutner (right).
UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl (left) and L.A. schools superintendent Austin Beutner (right).

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said the report recommendation bolsters the district’s positions. He said that the report means the teacher’s union agrees on the issues of back pay and a salary increase.

“Los Angeles Unified’s offer of 6 percent is appropriate and UTLA has agreed that is appropriate,” Beutner said. Beutner’s utterance prompted a fusillade of vitriol by union leaders in response.

“It seems like he’s living in some fantasy world — one that wants to ignore the 50,000 plus citizens who took to the streets this weekend to demand educational justice,” UTLA West Area representative Larry Shoham, told L.A. Taco.

Caputo-Pearl called Beutner’s comment a “stunt,” and said the union is filing a formal “bad practices complaint” on that move.

“United Teachers Los Angeles calls on LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner to immediately retract his statement made today to the media. Contrary to what he told reporters this morning in a press conference, no agreement – salary or otherwise – has been reached between UTLA and LAUSD,” the union said in a statement posted on its website.

Thousands of teachers and supporters protested in Grand Park this past weekend. Photo by Philip Iglauer.

The fact-finding report was ordered following failed state mediation, the last legal step in a process that clears the way for them to walk out. The aim of the panel was to try to find common ground that could pave the way toward a settlement.

Beutner said more talks are needed, but the district is ready if teachers strike.

“If there is a strike, we will be prepared. Schools will be open, children will be safe, and they’ll be learning. But we believe we can avoid a strike. We're working hard to avoid a strike. We’re hoping UTLA will join us at the bargaining table to resolve this,” he said.

Thousands of teachers and their supporters protested in Grand Park this past weekend, in a show of force. The large group – some estimates put it as high as 50,000 – wore red shirts they said symbolize unity.

RELATED: ‘I Don’t Make Enough For Rent’ ~ L.A. Hotel Workers Poised To Strike As Early As Wednesday

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