Politicians rarely run on a platform of raising taxes or giving raises to public sector employees at the local, state or federal level. This has led to a series of legal battles in recent years, particularly involving teachers’ unions. Therefore, the strike by 34,000 teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District is just the latest of an ongoing series of strikes where educators seek pay raises and improvements in working conditions.
According to a recent poll conducted by USA Today and Ipsos Public Affairs, there is 3-1 margin of support for striking teachers. It went on to point out that teachers have a right to strike and have the support of 6 in 10 parents whose children’s lives are disrupted by the strike. This, of course, puts the Los Angeles educators in a position of power as they negotiate, but it really it is not just about giving the teachers a raise.
The Los Angeles Unified School District attempts to maintain a balancing act where taxpayers are happy, parents and children are happy, and the educators are happy.
Balancing a budget is at the heart of the issue
The LAUSD currently has a $2 billion surplus, but that money is earmarked for a variety of initiatives including raises for bus drivers and cafeteria staff. The administration points out that the school district would go bankrupt, which is against the law, if every demand from every employee was met.
The LAUSD has offered teachers raises, but there are other differences that have led to the strike. The teachers’ union requests:
- Smaller class sizes
- More guidance counselors
- More deans
- More nurses
- More librarians
Representing all interests
Part of the solution will likely come from attorneys with experience negotiating contracts for municipalities. It will need to be compliant with the laws governing the administration, it will need to address the needs of the teachers and the priority should still be giving students the best possible education. Finding the right balance will take time and effort.