Barring a last-minute agreement, the Los Angeles teachers’ union has said it will strike in January.
The contract dispute between the Los Angeles Unified school district and United Teachers Los Angeles entered its final phase last week, according to the LA School Report, with the convening of the three-member fact-finding panel. The panel now has about a month to submit non-binding recommendations. Then, the district can make a final offer, after which the union is free to strike.
UTLA has released an action plan for November and December to drum up support for an eventual strike. Members will engage in parent outreach and produce “thousands of banners, picket signs, and posters” to be used in both the potential strike and a “March for Public Education” on Dec. 15. Members will also boycott scheduled faculty meetings in December.
UTLA leaders wrote that the march will be a “show of power” that “will put pressure on the district to give us an agreement now, while also sending a clear message that we will strike if we have to.” It will be the final action item until the new year—the district is closed from then to Jan. 4 for winter recess.
Then, if no agreement has been reached, the union plans to strike.
See also: Los Angeles Teachers Inch Closer to a Strike. Here’s What You Should Know
Union leaders have sought a 6.5 percent pay raise retroactive to July 1, 2016, along with class-size reductions, fewer required tests, and more school nurses, counselors, social workers, and librarians. The district has offered a 6 percent pay raise for all teachers, which includes a 3 percent retroactive raise for the past school year, along with class-size reductions in a handful of high-needs schools, and additional pay for teachers taking professional-development courses. Union leaders called the district’s offer “insulting.”
Los Angeles is the second-largest district in the country, with more than 600,000 students. There hasn’t been a teachers’ strike there since 1989. District leaders have said that schools would remain open if teachers do go on strike, and students would receive instruction from district administrators and substitute teachers.
January is shaping up to be a heated month for teacher activism. Virginia teachers are organizing a march in Richmond on Jan. 28, a Monday, to protest stagnant wages and cuts to school funding. The rally could shut down schools across the state if enough teachers take personal days to attend.
These labor actions follow a season of teacher strikes earlier this year. There were six statewide teacher walkouts in the spring, along with more than a dozen strikes in Washington state this fall.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.