Jan. 22 (UPI) — Thousands of Los Angeles-area teachers are returning to the picket line Tuesday after marathon meetings over the weekend and Monday failed to resolve the strike, now in its second week.
The two sides were close to a settlement late Monday and are happy with how the negotiations are going, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“We have been working tirelessly to reach an agreement and have made tremendous progress with five days and more than 50 hours of negotiations at City Hall,” Mayor Eric Garcetti, who’s mediated the talks, told the Times. “The parties are still at the table, and I am optimistic that we have the momentum to take those final steps toward bringing our teachers and young people back into their classrooms.”
The second-largest U.S. school district has been on strike since Jan. 14 when about 30,000 teachers walked off the job to fight for higher wages, smaller class sizes and additional support staff.
The schools will remain open with only a skeleton crew there to manage the few students who show up.
United Teachers Los Angeles, a union that represents the teachers, set up a Tuesday morning march with firefighters, a news conference and a rally at the Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters downtown. Teachers said they are prepared to strike all week if necessary, but they’d rather return to the classroom.
“I think there is hope,” history teacher and UTLA chapter leader Nicolle Fefferman told the Los Angeles Daily News. “Everybody’s tired and wants this to end, but everybody also understands that we’ve gotten this far, so if we can hang on let’s hang on.”
There’s growing frustration among teachers the longer the impasse lasts and they picket without pay.
“There’s tremendous disappointment that it couldn’t be solved by Tuesday, but we’re willing to go out,” robotics teacher Charlie Wilken told the Daily News.
Salary negotiations have been close but the district insists on spreading a 6 percent raise out over the first two years of a three-year deal. UTLA wants a 6.5 percent raise now and retroactive for last year. Teachers are also fighting for more librarians and nurses.
UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl called for a moratorium on charter schools because they are non-union, compete with public schools for state funding and have poached 20 percent of the students in the district.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News