LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The union representing Los Angeles Unified School District teachers will tabulate ballots today from a weeklong strike- authorization vote, potentially moving toward the first teacher walkout in the district since 1989.
Members of United Teachers Los Angeles began voting Aug. 23, and ballots were collected through Thursday. Results of the vote could be announced late today.
If the teachers vote to authorize a strike, it does not automatically mean and walkout will occur. The vote only gives union leadership the right to call a strike depending on the status of labor talks with the district.
UTLA has already declared the negotiations at an impasse, and a state mediator has been appointed in hopes of resolving the deadlock.
But no mediation sessions have occurred, and none are scheduled until Sept. 27. The late date has led to accusations by UTLA that district officials have been delaying the process, with the union claiming it was prepared to begin mediation by mid-August. The district has denied the allegation, saying it accepted the Sept. 27 offered by the state mediator.
Meanwhile, both the district and the union have filed charges against the other with the state Public Employment Relations Board. The union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the district on Monday night, accusing the district of unlawfully interfering with the union's strike-authorization vote and failing to provide requested financial documents.
The district followed suit the next day, accusing UTLA of engaging in "take-it-or-leave-it bargaining” and failing to even consider any compromises for roughly 16 months.
Salary is one part of the division between the district and the union. United Teachers Los Angeles has asked for a 6.5 percent raise retroactive to July 1, 2016, with the possibility of future raises in a contract that would run through June 30, 2020.
The district has offered 6 percent, stretched out over a three-year period. Other district employee unions already have settled for about 6 percent, spread out over several years in various ways, but they could be entitled to additional compensation if the teachers get more.
The union has also called for steps to reduce class sizes and to increase accountability for charter schools.
The district has contended that the union's offer would increase the LAUSD's existing $500 million deficit in the current school year by another $813 million. It also claims that the district's existing $1.2 billion reserve fund cannot be used to cover the union demands since it is already being used to offset the existing budget shortfall.
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