The strike at America’s second-largest school district isn’t over and the picket lines aren’t coming down, but the United Teachers Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District are sitting down together to talk today for the first time in nearly a week.
“Following discussions with the leadership of UTLA and LAUSD, both parties have agreed to resume bargaining [Thursday] at noon at City Hall,” Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office said after LAUSD officials finally gave further discussion the nod late Wednesday. “The Mayor’s Office will facilitate these negotiations,” the ambitious Garcetti’s office added about a strike that has left the mayor looking hapless in its early days and earned the politician the wrath of many a parent of the nearly half-million children affected by the labor action.
“We will be ready to bargain tomorrow and our team will work long and hard toward an agreement that benefits our students, members and communities,” UTLA contract bargaining team co-chair Arlene Inouye said earlier in the evening, indicating the union was open to talks as the Hollywood-supported strike prepared to go into its fourth day on what’s expected to be a rainy Thursday.
The plan is that while the strike continues, talks could go through the weekend and even past the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, according to one well-placed source.
Having seen $69 million in state funding evaporate due to student absences since the first full teachers’ strike in 30 years began January 14, the LAUSD has maintained that the 863 schools and facilities in the district remain open. However, despite the presence of “qualified L.A. Unified staff,” including 400 recently hired substitute teachers, according to the LAUSD, only 132,000 students showed up for class Wednesday.
With agencies, studios and networks across the company town providing Hollywood staffers with options like working from home, extra child care help and bringing kids to work, the first few days of the strike have hit the entertainment industry a little lighter than the rest of Los Angeles.
However, like the ongoing federal government shutdown, the longer this strike goes, the harder it will be to keep those fallback plans.
After nearly two years of negotiations, talks between officials at the LAUSD and the teachers union hit the skids January 11 over differences on pay, the expansion of charter schools, class sizes and staffing levels. About 30,000 UTLA members, including school nurses and librarians as well as teachers, have been on strike since Monday.