L.A. Students Win: UTLA reaches Tentative Agreement

Ratification vote this afternoon; classes could resume tomorrow

The educators of Los Angeles believed in their students so much that they walked off their jobs for six days to fight for the schools these kids deserve. Today, this commitment to their community, students and each other scored a historic victory as United Teachers Los Angeles reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) with Los Angeles Unified School District.

Following a marathon of bargaining sessions over the past five days, UTLA and LAUSD held a joint press conference at Los Angeles City Hall to announce the TA that could bring the now six-day long strike to an end. The agreement will need to be ratified by a vote of UTLA’s membership before educators return to classrooms.

“We were able to reach an agreement that includes so many elements that are important to our students, our families and our parents,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl. “Our members are going to vote on this today. All 34,000 of our members are going to be in meetings for the rest of the afternoon and evening to discuss this. We expect that it will be approved because it’s a great agreement.”

Details of the agreement are trickling out and the full TA will be posted on the UTLA website. (Update: Summary of TA here) Initial reports include class size reductions, a 6-percent pay increase for educators, more support staff, resources for special education, community schools with wraparound services, and accountability for charter schools as some of the victories scored for Los Angeles public schools. Caputo-Pearl said the agreement also eliminates the clause that allowed the district to unlaterally ignore class-size caps.

The agreement announcement came as UTLA members and supporters walked picket lines for a sixth day. The strike seemed to grow every day, with storm clouds failing to drench the passion of UTLA educators for their students and a brighter tomorrow for Los Angeles public schools. Not only did the solidarity of educators inspire a city of millions, it captured the hearts of fellow teachers around the world and sparked a national discussion about why public education matters.

“We went on one of the largest strikes that the United States has seen in decades,” Caputo-Pearl said. “The creativity and innovation and passion and love and emotion of our members was out on the street, in the communities and in the parks for everyone to see.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who worked with both sides as they negotiated at city hall, said it was inspiring to see the way the community rallied around public education over the past few weeks.

“It’s time for a new day for public education in Los Angeles,” Garcetti said.

A press conference is expected later today (and will be broadcast live on Facebook) once the ratification vote is complete.

Photo by Josh Kob

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