A Tentative Deal In The LA Teachers Strike — Now, Union Members To Vote

Updated 5:15 ET Tuesday

On the sixth day of the Los Angeles teachers strike, the school district and union leaders announced that they’ve reached a tentative agreement.

“This is much more than just a narrow labor agreement. It’s a very broad compact around things that get at social justice, educational justice and racial justice,” United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said at a news conference Tuesday.

“The strike no one wanted is now behind us,” said Austin Beutner, the city’s school superintendent.

Teachers meanwhile remain on strike. The tentative deal won’t become official until union members vote on the agreement, which Caputo-Pearl said will happen Tuesday afternoon and evening. During that time, the school board will also decide whether or not to ratify the deal, Beutner said. If both groups approve it, teachers will head back to class on Wednesday, Caputo-Pearl said.

Teachers went on strike on Monday, Jan. 14, after about two years of contract negotiations and over a year of working without a contract. As teachers took to the streets, talks went on hold. The school district and the union resumed negotiations on Thursday, ahead of the holiday weekend. The city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, facilitated negotiations, including a 21-hour session that ended in the early morning hours on Tuesday.

“For a city that embraced the idea that public education matters — that children matter, that teachers matter — today is a day full of good news,” Garcetti said.

UTLA — which represents more than 30,000 teachers and school support staff — is striking for smaller classes, and more nurses, counselors and librarians in schools. District leaders previously said they just didn’t have the money to pay for that.

The week before the strike, Beutner visited the state Capitol in Sacramento to ask for more funding for the district, and in many press events since, he’s emphasized that 90 percent of the district’s funding comes from the state of California.

At a Tuesday press conference, Caputo-Pearl and Beutner said that the tentative deal would increase teachers’ salary, reduce class sizes, and put more support staff in schools — though they did not share details.

Caputo-Pearl also mentioned that the agreement touched on special education, standardized testing and keeping charter schools accountable.

The union later posted the tentative agreement online, which included these details, among other things:

  • 6 percent salary increase for teachers
  • A full-time nurse in every school, five days a week, by 2020-2021 school year
  • Class size reductions over the next few years — by the 2021-2022 school year, classes will be reduced by four students
  • Additional counselors and librarians in schools
  • More “community schools” — the district will designate 30 by mid-2020

Read a summary of the agreement posted by the school district here.

Los Angeles, is home to the country’s second-largest school district and serves almost a half-million students. Most schools have remained open throughout the strike, staffed by administrators, volunteers and substitutes teachers.

However, attendance has been low during the strike, with less than a third of the students coming to school on some days, according to the district.

That’s a problem because district funding from the state is linked to attendance. Each day of the strike means an estimated net loss of about $10 to $15 million dollars.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.