On Nov. 14, the labor dispute between the L.A. school district and the L.A. teachers union entered the fact-finding stage. Over the next 30 days or so, the claims by each side will be analyzed and a report issued by a panel headed by the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), the state agency that oversees collective bargaining. A notice on the website of the teachers union reads: “January: We strike if no agreement is reached after fact finding.”
The main issue the fact-finding panel will weigh in on is whether the district has enough money to meet the teachers’ demands for higher pay, smaller class sizes and other changes. The district says it can’t afford the teachers’ demands; the union says it can.
The panel has three members, one from the district, one from the union and one representing PERB. The district appointed Adam Fiss, an attorney at Littler Mendelson, a prominent employment-law firm. The union appointed Vern Gates, a seasoned negotiator with the California Teachers Association Negotiations and Organizational Development Department. PERB selected David A. Weinberg, an experienced arbitrator.
As fact-finding moves ahead, both sides in the dispute are bracing for a strike. The school district has prepared a booklet called “Family Resource Guide: Preparing for a Potential Strike,” available on its website at lausd.net.
The teachers union has several actions planned this month, outlined at UTLA.net. On Dec. 4 and Dec. 11, teachers will boycott scheduled faculty meetings and instead call parents to invite them to a “March for Public Education” on Dec. 15 at Grand Park/City Hall. On Dec. 7, 8 and 9, teachers, students and artists will gather to create banners, posters and picket signs to use at the march and during the strike, if it comes to that.
The dispute could still be settled without a strike. But at this point, the two sides remain far apart.