Los Angeles teachers are still on strike as of Tuesday morning, after negotiations between the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union and the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) came closer to an agreement over the long weekend.
The talks are being mediated by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a potential Democratic presidential contender in 2020, though he has no formal authority over the school district.
The Los Angeles Daily News reports that there is hope for a deal, and the Los Angeles Times confirms that the two sides are close on details such as salary increases — where the difference between the district (6%) and the union (6.5%) was only one half of one percent when the strike began, aside from differences over the timing of the hike.
The Times adds that teachers still want to see the number of charter schools restricted. However, the local district has no authority over that issue, which is handled at the state level:
Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl … has framed the negotiations as being about the future of traditional public education in Los Angeles and beyond. This has translated into demands for smaller class sizes and schools “fully staffed” with nurses, librarians and counselors, who also are union members.
Caputo-Pearl also has called for a moratorium on privately operated charter schools, most of which are non-union. Charters compete with the district for students and the state funding that follows them. L.A. Unified has more charters than any other district. About one in five Los Angeles public school students now attends a charter school.
Charter school law, however, is made at the state level, so the union’s agenda on charters cannot be realized at the bargaining table.
Voters and parents seem to like charter schools: two charter school advocates won seats on the LAUSD board in 2017.
The unions are also attempting to reclaim political power lost to them after last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME prevented them from compelling all public school employees to pay union dues.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.