UTLA Declares Impasse in Talks with LAUSD

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Accusing the Los Angeles Unified School District of turning its back on public education, the union representing the district's teachers declared an impasse in labor talks today and demanded the appointment of a state-appointed mediator.

 ``Our employer refuses to partner with us for a sustainable vision for the future,” according to a statement from United Teachers Los Angeles. ``Why? Because our school district is currently dominated by pro-privatization ideologues who would rather starve our public schools than fight for their survival. Therefore, the UTLA bargaining team believes the bargaining process with our employer has been exhausted, and the two parties are at an impasse.”

 LAUSD Deputy Superintendent Vivian Ekchian said the district strongly disagrees with the union's declaration of an impasse, saying the negotiations are ongoing.

 ``A review of the parties' proposals and counterproposals, which can be found on the L.A. Unified and UTLA websites, shows the district has been engaged in a good-faith effort to reach agreement,” Ekchian said. ``Furthermore, the parties had scheduled a bargaining session for July 24, and neither had previously indicated there was no further room for movement.

 ``As before, L.A. Unified negotiators remain focused on reaching an agreement that respects the value and hard work of our employees, and considers the budget realities that threaten the district's long-term financial viability,” she said.

 UTLA, the nation's second-largest teachers' union local, which represents more than 35,000 teachers and health and human services employees in LAUSD and charter schools, sent a letter Monday morning to the LAUSD Office of Labor Relations ``declaring contract negotiations are at a deadlock” and demanding that LAUSD ``bring in a state-appointed mediator to assist both parties in achieving a bargaining agreement that is acceptable to both parties.”

 The union said in a statement that ``for more than one year, we have attempted to engage our employer in a thoughtful and progressive bargaining process that paves the way toward a better future for our students and the Los Angeles Unified School District, but it's become increasingly clear that the charter lobby-backed school board majority, along with its handpicked superintendent, Austin Beutner, has a different goal.

 ``That goal is to blame educators for a starved school system, providing a rationale for even deeper cuts, softening the ground to replace our school district with privatization schemes that have failed in other cities. And we cannot, in good conscience, allow it to happen without fighting back.”

 The union charged that the district, through its hires and other actions, is ``building a case for a repudiation of public education in L.A., including the report from Beutner's task force called `Hard Choices,' which pits students against their teachers, and manipulates data to justify a type of private equity `wind down' of LAUSD.”


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