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Los Angeles teachers approve deal ending strike after six days

Mayor Eric Garcetti praised both the union and school district administrators.
Image: Los Angeles teachers on strike
Alessandro Niculescu joins other students, teachers, and supporters to picket in the rain outside John Marshall High School during a teachers strike Monday in Los Angeles. Alessandro's father is a teacher at the school.Barbara Davidson / Getty Images

The Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers' union reached a tentative labor deal that will bring to an end a six-day strike, and the union's members are voting overwhelmingly to approve it, officials said on Tuesday.

Mayor Eric Garcetti praised both the union and school district administrators.

“These are people who are committed to public education,” he said. “I do think this is new chapter.”

Union members still need to vote on the pact to formally end their strike, which began on Jan. 14.

Both sides predicted that rank-and-file members and the school board would approve the tentative pact and end the strike, which began Jan. 14.

Preliminary voting showed that "a vast super-majority are voting yes," meaning the strike is over and teachers would be returning on Wednesday, union president Alex Caputo-Pearl said Tuesday evening.

"Those are preliminary results, but they're so overwhelming that we know what the result is going to be," Caputo-Pearl said. He said the counting of those ballots would continue Wednesday.

Leaders of the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, summarized the tentative agreement as including a 6 percent pay raise (3 percent retroactive to last school year and 3 percent for this school year); nurses at every school by fall 2020; 30 community schools with local control by spring 2020; 17 new counselors; and full-time librarians at each middle and high school by fall 2020.

The district agreed to a board vote on whether to ask the state to cap the number of charter schools, which are privately controlled, publicly funded institutions that often hire nonunion teachers. The district also committed to reducing aggregate class size by four students by fall 2021.

“Suffice to say in the first year, every school will see a reduction” in class size, Garcetti said. “Every year for the next four years, they will see reductions.”

The contract would run through 2022. The school district has about 600,000 students in K-12. Campuses have stayed open during the strike with a skeleton staff.

The district is the nation’s second largest school system and runs independently with its own superintendent and elected trustees.

Superintendent Austin Beutner, center, speaks during a news conference as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, right, and Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl listen after a tentative deal was reached between school officials and the teachers union after a six-day strike on Jan. 22, 2019.Richard Vogel / AP

Garcetti acted as a mediator and said the labor action, while painful, forced the issue that led to an agreement.

A key sticking point going into the strike was union accusations that the district was sitting on huge reserves that it was unwilling to spend.

Superintendent Austin Beutner said the distrcit will remain on firm financial footing with this deal. Union chief Caputo-Pearl said members are still suspicions, but are willing to shake hands with management.

“I think we, frankly, still have a few differences on key parts of the district’s budget” but not enough to scuttle the deal, Caputo-Pearl said.

Dennis Romero contributed.