By Nathan Solis
LOS ANGELES – Hauling the teachers’ union to court ahead of a strike on Thursday, the Los Angeles Unified School District says the planned work stoppage would constitute a breach of contract.
Though the United Teachers Los Angeles announced plans for its 30,000 educators to strike on Dec. 19, the school district shot back in a 9-page complaint Tuesday that a collective-bargaining agreement requires the union to give 10 days’ written notice.
Contending that the strike will harm about 700,000 students at more than 10,000 schools, the district is asking the Superior Court to grant an injunction.
In contrast to the risk that the strike poses to student safety, district funding and learning, in general, the district notes that “UTLA will suffer zero prejudice if an injunction enjoining the strike is issued.
The school district has blamed the failure to adopt a new contract on bad-faith bargaining by union representatives, and last week went to court to limit which union members could leave the classrooms in a strike.
Though the district wanted to keep special education faculty available for students, U.S. District Judge Ronald Lew ruled the school district failed to articulate a legal basis for its claims.
Multiple news outlets reported that the union had been set to pre-emptively take the school district to court over whether it gave proper notice ahead of the scheduled strike, but a technicality did not allow that hearing to take place.
Representatives for the UTLA did not return a phone call and email seeking comment. A district official reached for comment meanwhile cited a need to consult with counsel.
If a judge grants the district an injunction, the school district would push the teachers’ strike into the week of Jan. 14.
Earlier this week, union officials met with the school district’s bargaining team but did not make any progress.
The union wants to see the school district use its $1.8 billion in reserves to reduce class sizes and bolster new hires including nurses, librarians and other staff. They’re also seeking a pay raise and a cap on public dollars that benefit charter schools across the district.
In a statement after those failed bargaining talks, the school district said it offered the union a reduction in class sizes and more than 1,000 new hires, including nurses, counselors and other educators.
That would include a hiring increase from $30 million to $105 million, but union officials argued there was no guarantee these would be long-term employees and any pay increase for teachers was contingent on changes to an employee health plan.