LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The union representing Los Angeles Unified School District teachers has announced that a state mediator has been appointed to oversee contract negotiations between the union and the district as talks between the two sides remain stalled.
The chair of the bargaining team for United Teachers Los Angeles, Arlene Inouye, also said the union is preparing to conduct a strike authorization vote Aug. 23-30.
“We are at impasse,” Inouye said. “While we move forward with a state mediator, and continue to try to reach an agreement with the district — one that respects students, educators and the community — we also must mobilize our members for a strike, if one becomes necessary.”
The sides have been engaged in contract talks for 14 months, but remain far apart on critical terms, most notably salary increases.
A spokeswomen for the LAUSD had no comment on the Aug. 3 announcement, but Najeeb Khoury, LAUSD’s director of labor relations, has said that as the district demonstrated in agreements reached recently with the Service Employees International Union and the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles union, “we as a district are prepared to enter into a fair contract that balances the needs of our employees with the needs of our students and the financial stability of the district.”
The union is asking for 6.5 percent salary increases, along with steps to lower class sizes, reduce standardized testing and implement “accountability measures” for charter schools. The district has offered ongoing 2 percent salary hikes, along with a one-time 2 percent bonus and a $500 stipend for materials and supplies.
The union’s roughly 35,000 members are working under the terms of a labor contract that expired June 30, 2017.