UPDATE: Dec. 20, 2018: United Teachers Los Angeles has set a Jan. 10 strike date, citing "20 months of fruitless bargaining" in a press release on the union's website. Meanwhile, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District, the state's Public Employee Relations Board has issued a complaint against UTLA for "refusing to bargain in good faith," such as appearing to withdraw its support for the district's offer of a 6% raise.
- A fact-finding panel on Tuesday recommended that United Teachers Los Angeles accept the Los Angeles Unified School District’s offer of a 6% raise and that the district spend more money to reduce class sizes and hire more librarians, nurses and other professional staff members.
- David A. Weinberger, the state-appointed neutral chair of the panel, added in his report that as long as the district and the union disagree on how to calculate class size, it will be hard to resolve the issue. He recommended that the two sides “dedicate a few key individuals to immediately work together with shared data to come to common understandings as to how to calculate average class size.”
- UTLA has already agreed to the salary offer but is at odds with the district over many other issues, which Weinberger said may have to be put aside for now. The union, which held a march in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, did not return calls asking for comment, but one of the union’s tweets on Tuesday read:
Students can’t wait for lower class sizes and more nurses, counselors, psychologists, and librarians. @LASchools has a record-breaking $1.8 billion in reserves but talks about raising class size to 50 students? That’s why we #UTLAStrong #StrikeReady ???? by: Rodolfo Mondragon pic.twitter.com/M8K9iU6YX8— United Teachers Los Angeles (@UTLAnow) December 18, 2018
The appointment of the panel came after the union and district failed to reach agreement during a mediation phase. UTLA can now accept the recommendations or continue with plans to strike in January.
“Los Angeles Unified does not want a strike – which only UTLA can authorize – as a strike would harm students, families and communities most in need,” the district’s response to the report said. “Los Angeles Unified believes the Fact Finder Report and the agreement on 6% percent can provide the basis for a reasonable settlement of the remaining items and hopes UTLA will engage in good faith bargaining to find an agreement.”
In response to one of the union’s demands — giving teachers the freedom to decide which tests to administer beyond those required by state or federal law — Weinberg recommends creating a pilot program to allow some teachers that discretion. But Vern Gates, the union-aligned member of the panel, said he didn’t see the benefit of a pilot, and Adam Fliss, an attorney representing LAUSD’s interests on the panel, said a pilot would lead to inconsistent testing across the district and at the classroom level.