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Live Updates: Teachers Strike Ends ~ Teachers Are Expected Back in L.A. Schools Wednesday

9:43 AM PST on January 22, 2019

Los Angeles, CA – Jan. 18: UTLA Teachers Stike Rally on January 18, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

Welcome to L.A. Taco's teachers strike coverage, where we will be covering the latest UTLA strike developments. To read chronologically, start from the bottom. — Editors.

Wednesday, Jan. 23 - 10:11 am

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]eachers are back in school today. UTLA ratified the contract by nearly 80 percent, according to early numbers. This concludes our up-to-the-minute coverage of the teachers strike.

RELATED: ‘Why Are We Rushing the Vote?’ ~ Teachers Grumble But Overwhelmingly Approve Deal to End Strike

Tuesday, Jan. 22 - 9:43 am

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he teachers strike is over, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday morning during a joint new conference from City Hall with UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl and Superintendent Austin Beutner. The agreement still needs to be approved by union members and the board but is expected to be resolved within hours of the announcement.

"This is a good agreement. This is a historic agreement," Garcetti said. "It addresses class sizes. It addresses special education."

Beutner said the day "marked a new chapter" for public education in the city. "We entered contract negotiations with four goals and this agreement addresses all of them," he said. But Beutner pointed out that the resolution doesn't necessarily address the issue of financial insolvency that he has long argued faces the district.

Caputo-Pearl said he was "so proud" of teachers and supporters. He said the agreement includes "several key components" of the union's demands. The agreement includes "a real path" to addressing smaller class sizes, fair salaries, charter school accountability, special education improvements, and more money for nurses, librarians, and counselors.

"It's a great agreement," Caputo-Pearl said. He added that he expects the more than 30,000 union members to approve the agreement and for teachers to return to class Wednesday morning. There were cheers in the room from the union members as he made the announcement.

Both sides spent all Monday negotiating straight into 6 am Tuesday morning. This after spending every day since Thursday at the bargaining table to try and bring an end to the first L.A. teachers strike the city has seen in 30 years.

Tuesday morning's mass protest rally scheduled in Grand Park will now turn into a celebration.

Monday, Jan. 21 - 10:25 am

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he union and the district continue their marathon negotiation session today after spending the past four days hammering out a deal that could end the city's first teachers strike in a generation. Mayor Eric Garcetti Sunday said the negotiations have been "productive."

"All parties reaffirm their commitment to continuing negotiations into the night and into tomorrow to resolve the remaining issues as soon as possible," the mayor said.

UTLA plans to picket Tuesday morning and have another rally in downtown L.A. on the steps of City Hall, where the negotiations are being conducted. East L.A. Chicano rock band Quetzal is expected to perform and actress turned activist Alyssa Milano is the guest speaker.

Friday, Jan. 18 - 2:22 pm

Tens of thousands of striking L.A. teachers and their supporters along with many students rallied at Grand Park in downtown L.A. today after five days of picketing at hundreds of local schools and massive losses for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Taco correspondent Melissa Mora Hidalgo reported enormous enthusiasm from passers-by with people honking horns and teachers crowding into buses and subway lines. Former Rage Against the Machine musician Tom Morello performed, saying: "My name is Tom Morello and I'm a union man."

Public support for the teachers seemed to grow during the week, with more businesses and taquerías offering discounts or complimentary food to union members. A flash poll early in the week showed more than 52 percent of respondents "strongly supported" the UTLA strike, and 77 percent overall supported it.

Teachers and supporters rally at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles. Photos by Brian Feinzimer.
A sign parodies the traditional Lotería game with references to the union fight. Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.

Thursday, Jan. 17 - 6:39 pm

[dropcap size=big]M[/dropcap]ayor Eric Garcetti's involvement in the negotiations seems to have had an impact, despite the union's previous rejections of his offer to mediate. Garcetti got both sides to agree to stop leaking info from the negotiations, which had become a standard in the weeks leading up the strike.

UTLA still held its daily presser Thursday night but no details from day one of negotiations were disclosed. Though union boss Alex Caputo-Pearl said he was "optimistic" about a resolution to the strike coming "relatively soon." He also refused to say anything negative despite being led that way by one of the reporters in the room.

RELATED: When One School Is Wedged Onto Another and Starts Taking Its Space ~ An L.A. Campus Story

The union will continue to picket during the negotiations which are expected to go through at least the weekend. UTLA has another big rally planned Friday in Grand Park with live music by Tom Morello and others. Estimates for how many people attended the last Grand Park rally, held on the first day of the strike, ranged from 20,000 to 50,000 people.

Thursday, 11:34 am

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he teachers and district are bargaining today. The union announced last night that it had made the offer to sit down with the district. That didn't stop picketers from marching on L.A. Unified School Board President Monica Garcia's house late Wednesday night. Garcia has been standing side-by-side with Superintendent Austin Beutner during LAUSD pressers.

Some of the picketers last night were carrying signs with what has become the ubiquitous poster of the strike (see below). The image is of history and ethnic studies teacher Roxana Dueñas from the Math, Science, and Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights. The L.A. Times has a good feature about Dueñas and Boyle Heights based artist Ernesto Yerena, who made the poster art commissioned by UTLA.

Wednesday, Jan. 16 - 7:56 pm

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he teachers said that they will go back to the bargaining table. UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl and Arlene Inouye, UTLA’s chief negotiator, announced the news Wednesday night during a presser at UTLA headquarters. Inouye said the bargaining team is willing to go back as early as Thursday.

UTLA will continue to picket Thursday and Friday, with a "massive rally in Grand Park," Caputo-Pearl said. "Make these next two days vibrant. Make them creative. Make sure your lines are strong," he said. "We can't show one iota of relenting. So we can send our bargaining team into the weekend with a lot of energy."

Mayor Eric Garcetti will serve as mediator during the weekend sessions. Caputo-Pearl also said UTLA is in contact with Governor Gavin Newsom. The state controls the district's overall budget and Superintendent Austin Beutner has long said that they need to pressure Sacramento for more funding.

"Both parties met with Mayor Garcetti," Inouye said. "He has offered to mediate in an effort to help us work toward an agreement." Inouye said both sides have been in contact with State Superintendent Tony Thurmond.

Tom Morello will be performing at the rally Friday in Grand Park. The rain is expected to let up.

Wednesday, 5:29 pm

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he teachers strike is happening because of Superintendent Austin Beutner and School Board policy of not contradicting him publicly during the negotiations, according to L.A. Unified School Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson.

“I believe that there are resources available to end this strike” Schmerelson said in a statement. “What I do not see from Austin Beutner, and his supporters, is the political will to substitute constructive negotiations for the fear mongering, expensive taxpayer funded ads, slanted editorials, and endless press conferences.”

Schmerelson's statement comes on the heels of the news that school attendance dropped 22 percent from already tiny numbers the previous two days. Only about 132,ooo students of the 600,000 plus in the district attended Wednesday. Since 90 percent of school funding comes from attendance, this represents a huge financial hit for the district. L.A. Unified estimates its losses at about $70 million.

Read the full story on this latest development here:

L.A. School Board Member Breaks Ranks to Support Striking Teachers, Blames Beutner as District Losses Mount

Teacher Robb Anderson of El Sereno Middle School had a train horn. He said his dad pulled it off a train in the 40's. His dad was a teacher at Sierra Park Elementary and he and his dad used this train horn during the strike of 1989. Photo by Brian Feinzimer.

Wednesday, 12:05 pm

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he majority of people in Los Angeles support the striking teachers, according to an ongoing study by Loyola Marymount University. About 53 percent of people surveyed said they "strongly support" the teachers' actions to walkout of the classroom. Another 24 percent say they "somewhat support" the strike. On the other side, 10.5 and 12.6 "somewhat oppose" or "strongly oppose" respectively.

LMU's sample size is 425 people who were given the following prompt: "Last August, LAUSD teachers voted to authorize a strike if labor negotiations cannot reach an agreement. Would you support LAUSD teachers going on strike this January to meet their demands?"

The released data was from people asked prior to the actual walkout this week. The survey will continue throughout January.

Photo by Brian Feinzimer.

Wednesday, 10:30 pm

[dropcap size=big]C[/dropcap]ity Councilman Paul Kortez, who represents the westside, joined the picket line this morning during a rally at Hamilton High. "The most important thing we have to address before this strike ends is the unbridled growth of charter schools," Kortez said to loud cheers.

In last night's recap video from UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl, he indicated that the union and district might be inching toward resolution or at least sitting down to talk. But in this morning's rally, Pearl repeatedly called Superintendent Austin Beutner a liar for sending mixed messages to parents about consequences for students missing classes. L.A. unified sent out a memo (see below) yesterday indicating there would be no negative consequences after a batch of robocalls caused a stir.

Caputo-Pearl did again say they were very close to sitting down to bargain again. He plans to give out more details on that this afternoon. Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to be a part of the conversation going forward.

Class sizes and charter schools continue to be the sticking point. This morning's rally featured an array of student voices like Macy Bartlett's, a Hamilton High senior who had to sit on the floor for an entire year of chemistry class. The rally, which also featured live music and celebrities, was another lively and well-planned outing by the L.A. teachers.

Meanwhile, across town in Lincoln Heights, the picket line stretched way down Soto at LAUSD Local District East headquarters.

Tuesday, Jan. 15 - 6:30 pm

[dropcap size=big]U[/dropcap]TLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl appeared live on Twitter to update parents and teachers on some developments, including the fact that the union is working with Mayor Eric Garcetti to re-engage in negotiations. The mayor had previously offered to mediate negotiations but was turned down by the union. Garcetti has since come out in support of the striking teachers. He attended one of the UTLA rallies Tuesday.

One of the other major topics discussed by Caputo-Pearl pertains to attendance. He reassured parents in the district that the students would not be penalized for missing class during the strike. L.A. Taco received tips that the Spanish robocalls to homes in the district implied students missing class would be penalized. Late in the afternoon, L.A. unified sent out a memo (see below) to parents clarifying the stance on attendance. It appears the district will work with students who miss class during the huelga and halt the standard robocalls that caused a stir in the Spanish-speaking households.

Caputo-Pearl also said the picketers Wednesday would be joined by acclaimed education writer Diane Ravitch and Steven Van Zandt, who played Silvio Dante on The Sopranos and guitar in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.

Memo from L.A. Unified regarding student attendance.

Tuesday, 2:34 pm

[dropcap size=big]U[/dropcap]TLA had another big day with two rallies aimed directly at charter schools, which seems to be the biggest sticking point in the negotiations. Cudahy's own Latin rock rap mega group OZOMATLI performed at the second rally held at the California Charter Schools Association headquarters. UTLA has another presser planned for 5:3o pm.

Another thing to note is the school attendance figures released by the district this morning. Only about 25 percent of students showed up to class on the first day of the strike, costing the district about $25 million. Thought Superintendent Austin Beutner said LAUSD saved $10 million on salaries. Since the district makes its money from attendance, this is a big financial hit. It's why some parents kept their students home in solidarity with the teachers. They want to pressure the district.

RELATED: To Avoid Crossing Picket Lines LAUSD Parents Opt for Parks, Rec Centers

Tuesday, 8:34 am

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]t's day two of the UTLA strike and both sides had dueling press conferences. Again, UTLA showed up the district by coming out strong at The Accelerated Schools where charter school teachers joined the picket lines. Meanwhile, Beutner held a placid presser at LAUSD headquarters, where he had to admit that the UTLA energy yesterday was very high – this after initially estimating strike participation at about 3,500 moments before tens of thousands of picketers descended on downtown. Beutner seemed to imply that he would like to join the teachers in a rally on the steps of the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

The other thing apparent this morning is the technology factor. The district and the union are apart in many ways as clearly laid out by Taco contributor Sam Ribakoff here. But they seem equally distant when it comes to mastery of social media, mostly evident in the fact that Beutner's presser was broadcasted live on Facebook with the camera sideways for about four minutes.

Monday, Jan. 14 - 3:36 pm

[dropcap size=big]M[/dropcap]ayor Eric Garcetti spoke to the press for about 20 minutes on the strike. Garcetti led his press conference by saying he supports the teachers. He also said he supports a cap on new charter schools, and any new schools, citing declining enrollment across the district. L.A. Unified's projections, that say they will deplete the $1.8 billion reserve, would be moot if they stopped losing enrollment, according to Garcetti.

Monday, 10:15 am

Shortly after 10 am, Superintendent Austin Beutner and School Board rep Monica Garcia held a press conference reiterating the fact that schools will be open during the strike. However many programs like early education (except for special education) and nursing will be closed, Beutner said.

Monday, 9:00 am

Teachers all around the city held demonstrations like this dance that went viral after it was reshared on Twitter by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic congresswoman from New York.

Many parents opted not to cross the picket lines and took their kids to rec centers and parks throughout the city.

Los Angeles-Boyle Heights, CA - Jan. 14: Teacher protesters from Sheridan Street Elementary School marching at Soto and Cesar Chavez during the LAUSD Teacher Strike on January 14, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.

Teachers, parents, and students were on the picket line at Roosevelt High School.

Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.

Protesters picketed at Hollenbeck Middle School during the LAUSD teacher strike. Some brought their kids, friends, and even dogs.

Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.

Supporters gathered at Sal Castro in Westlake.

Photo by Lexis-Oliver Ray.

Strike supporters were also outside Luther Burbank Middle School in Highland Park.

Photo by Melanie Gonzalez.
Photo by Melanie Gonzalez.
Photo by Melanie Gonzalez.

UTLA supporters bundled up at Garvanza Elementary in Highland Park.

Photo by Philip Iglauer.
Photo by Philip Iglauer.

Some parents in Highland Park dropped off their kids at a rec center instead of sending them to classes.

Photo by Philip Iglauer.
Photo by Philip Iglauer.
Photo by Philip Iglauer.

Picketers moved from their respective schools to downtown L.A., to a big rally and march by UTLA.

UTLA supporters at Highland Park Metro. Photo by Melanie Gonzalez.
Photo by Sam Ribakoff.

Monica Studer from Venice High marched in the last teachers strike in 1989

Photo by Sam Ribakoff.
Photo by Sam Ribakoff.
Photo by Sam Ribakoff.
Photo by Melanie Gonzalez.
Photo by Melanie Gonzalez.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Sam Ribakoff.
Photo by Philip Iglauer.
Photo by Philip Iglauer.
Photo by Philip Iglauer.

The rally moved from City Hall to LAUSD headquarters.

Photo by Sam Ribakoff.
Photo by Sam Ribakoff.
Photo by Sam Ribakoff.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.
Photo by Brian Feinzimer.

Monday, 8 am

UTLA President Alex Caputo Pearl led a press conference Monday morning under a tent where he reiterated the union's stance on smaller class sizes. "Here we are on a rainy day in the richest country in the world, in the richest state in the country, in a city rife with millionaires, where teachers have to go on strike to get the basics for their students." Pearl told the crowd of students, teachers, and other supporters.

Teachers and supporters all around Los Angeles have told L.A. reporters that the strike is primarily over classroom sizes. "We are fighting for our students," said an elementary school teacher outside Highland Park. "For smaller class sizes and safety."

Monday, 6:30 am

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]housands of teachers, parents, students, and district managers and personnel of the Los Angeles Unified School District are affected by the city’s first strike in 30 years, that began officially at 7 am on Monday, January 14. Rain and tacos greeted picketers.

LAUSD campuses will remain open, the district said, and students are required to attend. But many parents are keeping their kids home, in a show of support for the teachers union amid a nationwide wave of educators taking to the picket lines. 

Even before the first picket line is assembled, the tense battle between the country’s second largest school district and ULTA, the 30,000-strong union, spilled over into the halls and quads of several schools since the strike vote was announced in late August. On some campuses, UTLA held special prep meetings at lunch, charter schools sent out notifications that that campuses will remain open during the strike, and students have held rallies and sign-making parties in support of the teachers.

Last week, a student who did the morning announcements at John F. Kennedy High School was relieved of her post for an impromptu rallying cry supporting the teachers.

For two years, the union and the district have been negotiating a new contract never coming close to an agreement. Many UTLA members have told L.A. Taco that district and Beutner have wanted it this way. “It’s like broke on purpose,” Arlene Inouye, UTLA’s chief negotiator told L.A. Taco. “He says, there’s no money so we have to do this. He already has a plan to re-imagine LAUSD and these 32 clusters.”

The district has repeatedly said it doesn’t have the money to give in to the union’s demands, which include a 6 percent raise and the money to hire new teachers, nurses, and psychiatrist to help manage growing class sizes. Beutner, the former banker and executive tapped to lead the troubled district last May, says he projects the district will lose lose about a half-a-billion dollars each year for the next three years, cutting deep into the $1.8 billion district reserves.

Both sides have filled formal labor complaints against each other. They have battled in court and in the press. And now the parents and students of Los Angeles hold their breaths as the battle turns to the picket lines.

UTLA protesters from Sheridan Street Elementary School in Boyle Heights were marching at Soto and Cesar Chavez during the LAUSD Teacher Strike this morning.

Brian Feinzimer, Melanie Gonzalez, Danie Hernandez, Philip Iglauer, Lexis-Oliver Ray, and Sam Ribakoff contributed to this report.

RELATED: Video: Who Is L.A. Teachers Union’s Chief Negotiator? ~ Meet Arlene Inouye

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