Los Angeles — Los Angeles school officials and the union representing more than 30,000 striking teachers said at a press conference on Tuesday that the sides have reached a tentative agreement to end their labor dispute. The deal clears the way for educators to return to classrooms on Wednesday after a six-day strike in the nation's second-largest district.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the deal with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). He said it requires the approval of the teachers and the Board of Education.
UTLA membersin 30 years. In addition to higher pay and improved benefits, teachers were demanding smaller classroom sizes and schools that are "fully staffed" with nurses, counselors and librarians. The union is also looking to cap the growth of privately operated charter schools, which competes for resources with public schools.
"I'm proud to announce that pending approval by the teachers represented by UTA and the educational professional and this board of education we have an agreement that will allow our teachers to go back to work on the campuses tomorrow," Garcetti said.
"A free and excellent public education is the right of every child in Los Angeles,"he added.
Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said teachers would vote Tuesday and that he expected approval. A key achievement under the deal will be to make classes smaller, he told reporters after announcing the agreement.
"We're finally on a pathway to reduce class sizes," Caputo-Pearl said, while acknowledging that won't happen overnight.
"I'm delighted that we reached an agreement with the UTLA that provides teachers with a well-deserved salary increase, that will reduce class size, and add more support to our students and educators with school librarians, nurses and counsellors," Los Angeles schools superintendent Austin Beutner said.
Schools stayed open during the strike, staffed by a skeleton crew of substitute teachers and administrators.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is projecting a half-billion-dollar deficit this budget year and has billions obligated for pension payments and health coverage for retired teachers.