Striking teachers in LA reach tentative settlement with district

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Los Angeles public school teachers reached a tentative settlement with school officials Tuesday in order to end a weeklong strike that has affected some 500,000 students.

The deal calls for a six percent pay raise for teachers and caps on class sizes, one of the key demands made by the union.

School district officials also agreed to boost the number of staff, including nurses and counselors.

The settlement -- reached after 21 hours of marathon talks that ended early Tuesday -- was set to be voted on by the roughly 30,000 members of the teachers union later in the day and classes are due to resume on Wednesday.

"The strike nobody wanted is now behind us," Los Angeles United School District superintendent Austin Beutner said at a joint press conference with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

Caputo-Pearl hailed the agreement as "historic."

"This is a good agreement, it is a historic agreement," he said. "It gets to lower class sizes, it gets to support services."

The strike, which began January 14 in the second largest district in the country, saw tens of thousands of teachers and supporters picket outside schools and march in downtown Los Angeles.

The walkout, the first in 30 years, was closely being watched by other school districts across the country engaged in labor negotiations that are also considering strikes.

Last year, a strike by teachers in West Virginia over low wages and rising health care costs set off a wave of similar action in several other states and garnered strong public support.

The strike in Los Angeles put a spotlight on the financial plight of public schools across the country and how they have had to compete with the rise of charter schools.

Those schools are publicly funded institutions that operate independently of the established state school system. In recent years, charter schools have proliferated in California, one of the wealthiest states in the nation.