Public school teachers in Los Angeles moved closer to a strike on Friday, when the third mediation session between the teachers union (UTLA) and the school district (LAUSD) ended in failure. The teachers want increases in wages, per-pupil funding and student support services; decreases in class size and standardized testing; and improvements in charter school oversight and school safety. The LAUSD says it cannot afford to meet the teachers’ demands.
Parents are wondering about a timeline. The legal process now calls for a fact-finding period, in which a panel assesses the claims made by each side and issues an analysis. This could take up to 50 days, including 10 days to form the panel, 30 days to complete a report and 10 days from the time the report is issued until it is made public. The panel is made up of a representative from each side and a chairperson selected by the Public Employment Relations Board.
If there is no agreement by the end of the fact-finding period, the union could strike. But the union does not need to strike right away. Bottom line: The uncertainty about if and when the teachers may strike could go into 2019.
In the meantime, parents can plan for what they will do if there is a strike.
Schools will remain open, so one option would be to send your kids to school where they will be supervised by LAUSD personnel and served meals as per usual. Or you can keep your child at home; arrange for other day care; or join the teachers’ picket line with your kids.
If you decide to send your kids to school, they will likely see their teachers picketing, leafletting and wearing red, the union’s color of solidarity. Neither parents nor students should expect instruction during a strike. The teachers union voted 98% in favor of striking if need be and many substitute teachers are UTLA members, so teaching would be effectively shut down in a strike.
The Boulevard Sentinel asked local rec centers – Eagle Rock, Yosemite and Glassell Park — if they would add organized activities in the event of a strike, but they have no such plans at this time. In other cities where teachers have recently gone on strike, the Y and Boys and Girls Clubs stepped up to help fill the kids’ days while parents worked. Parents should ask at the parks and other organizations where their kids play if hours and activities would be ramped up during a strike. Questions from parents could lead the organizations to do some contingency planning.
If there is a strike, there’s no telling how long it would last. The last teachers strike in L.A., in 1989, lasted nine days. The strike before that, in 1970, lasted 23 days.