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Teachers Strike Threat Looms As LAUSD Begins Winter Break

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Today was the last day of classes for LAUSD students and faculty before winter break — but teachers may not return when class is back in session.

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl says the union has spent 19 months negotiating with the district, and he has not seen a legitimate offer yet.

"The big issues in this contract struggle are reducing class size, getting more nurses, counselors, psychologists, librarians to our schools, making sure privatization isn't sapping money from neighborhood public schools," Caputo-Pearl said. "Those are the key issues. Of course, a fair salary. That's really what's motivating this."

L.A. Unified's superintendent Austin Beutner says the district is offering to add teachers and reduce class sizes in communities that have the highest need, and is offering a six percent pay raise to all teachers. He also says the district will create a "plain language" version of the UTLA contract to help students, families and communities to have a voice in all of the issues the contract covers.

Caputo-Pearl says, however, this negotiation is unlike previous years where layoffs were a major concern. Now, negotiations also hinge on the debate between public schools and privatizing schools through charters.

"This isn't about not having money," Caputo-Pearl said. "This is about choices."

"We do feel like we're nearing the place where a strike as the last resort has to be done," he added.

Inside the basement at the union's headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, pallets of water and more than a thousand placards are ready for to go for a march Saturday morning. Turn out is expected to number in the tens of thousands.

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