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L.A. teachers union schedules strike authorization vote

L.A. teachers union schedules strike authorization vote
Thousands of teachers filled Grand Park in late May for a rally for better pay and working conditions. Contract negotiations with L.A. Unified School District are at an impasse. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles teachers union announced Friday that it has scheduled a strike-authorization vote for later this month.

A strike would not be automatic, even if a majority of members vote yes. But such a result would give union leaders the authority to call a strike without returning to members for another vote. Having members authorize a strike is a well-established pressure tactic, and once in a while, a strike does occur.

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United Teachers Los Angeles scheduled the vote after the state’s Public Employment Relations Board agreed with the union that talks were deadlocked.

Other district employee unions have reached deals that provide for about a 6% raise over three years. L.A. Unified has yet to offer that much to teachers, but that’s clearly where officials want to end up.

The teachers union wants a 6.5% raise retroactive to July 1, 2016, and possible raises over the following three years. The union also is calling for reduced class sizes, for “ending overtesting” of students and “placing reasonable accountability measures” on independently operated charter schools, most of which are nonunion.

Charters compete with the district for students and the funding that follows them to the schools where they enroll.

District officials contend that the union’s proposal would increase an annual spending deficit from about $500 million to about $1.3 billion, rapidly consuming reserves.

Union leaders counter that the district refuses to take necessary steps to invest in student success and lead the fight to increase funding for education.

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