Los Angeles teachers union sets January strike date

Aug 21

Los Angeles teachers union sets January strike date

LOS ANGELES – Teachers in the nation's second-largest school district will go on strike next month if there's no settlement of their long-running contract dispute, union leaders said Wednesday.

The announcement by United Teachers Los Angeles threatens the first strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District in nearly 30 years and follows about 20 months of negotiations.

The union, which said it would strike on Jan. 10, argues that the district is hoarding a large reserve of $1.8 billion that could be used to pay teachers more, lower class sizes, improve conditions and add more full-time nurses at campuses. The union also is arguing for "common-sense regulation on charter schools."

"We've reached the point where enough is enough," union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said at a news conference announcing the plan to strike.

"We have watched the underfunding and the actions of privatizers undermine our students and our schools for too long," he said. "The civic institution of public education in Los Angeles is worth saving. It needs to be saved for the future of the city."

In a news release on Tuesday, the district said "a strike would harm students, families and communities most in need."

The district, which has more than 640,000 K-12 students, offered $30 million in additional funding to reduce class sizes and hire additional counselors, librarians and nurses, and said the union had agreed to a 6 percent salary raise.

Caputo-Pearl denied agreeing to any terms regarding salary and said the union would be filing an unfair labor practice charge against the district "on that lie."

"By dragging us through this process for 20 months, refusing to invest in our schools, the district has disrespected our students and disrespected us," he said. "For these reasons we have not accepted the district's offer to go back to the table."

The State of California Public Employment Relations Board issued a complaint against the union this week for refusing to bargain in good faith.

Much of the bad blood between the two sides centers around the district's superintendent, Austin Beutner, an investment banker and former Los Angeles deputy mayor without experience in education.

The union argues that Beutner is trying to privatize the district, encouraging school closures and flipping public schools into charter schools. Charters are privately operated public schools that compete with the school system for students and the funds they bring in.

Beutner has said his plan to reorganize the district would improve services to students and families.

Thousands of teachers took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles last weekend to demand a new contract. They wore red shirts, banged drums and carried signs that read "Stand With LA Teachers!" as they marched.

The teachers are tapping into a shift in public sentiment that supports better wages for educators that came with a "Red4Ed" movement that began earlier this year in West Virginia, where a strike resulted in a raise. The movement spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado, Arizona and Washington state.

Jul 27

Top 5 biggest TV character deaths of 2018

As we prepare to watch the ball drop on another year in TV, the sad truth is that some of our favorite on-screen characters won’t be making the journey into 2019 with the rest of us.

Like every year before it, TV series were forced to kill off key characters for one reason or another — whether it was succumbing to illness, murder or the plagues of a zombie outbreak. As we move toward a celebration of the past and hope for the new year, it’s important to take a moment to properly say goodbye to some of the characters we lost in 2018.

Below are the top five most shocking TV deaths of the year, in no particular order: Martin Riggs, “Lethal Weapon” After production of the first two seasons of "Lethal Weapon" was marred by in-fighting between the two core cast members and allegedly unsafe working conditions on set, Clayne Crawford’s Martin Riggs was killed off in the premiere of Season 3, allowing Seann William Scott to take over as the other half of the series. Fans learned in the opening scene that the gunshot wound Riggs suffered in the Season 2 finale was, indeed, fatal. Season 3 kicked off with a frantic hospital sequence that ultimately ends with doctors telling Murtaugh that his partner died.

DeDe, “Modern Family” After teasing that a significant character and member of the family will die in the latest season, fans were speculating left and right who would it be. While the loss of a regular cast member may have been a little too dark for the beloved family sitcom, it managed to pull off something emotional with the loss of Jay Pritchett’s ex-wife, DeDe, played by Shelley Long. During the Halloween episode of Season 10 it’s revealed that she died peacefully in her sleep. While she was not a favorite member of the family, it allowed the show to explore the grieving process through the eyes of each character.

Carl Grimes, “The Walking Dead” For a show that’s willing to kill main characters at the drop of a hat, most fans agree that the loss of Carl Grimes, a Season 1 alum, felt different. Not only was he on the younger side of the casualty list for “The Walking Dead,” but he was just coming into his own as a man in the battle against Negan. Unfortunately, Carl’s propensity to help others ended up being his undoing. When a new survivor wandered into our hero’s territory, Carl got bit by a walker trying to help him to get to the safe zone. While most characters would have sung their swan song then, Carl kept on his feet long enough to lead the community full of adults to safety once Negan came-a-knocking. The show has taken a time jump since Carl’s death, but it hit the world hard and will go down in history as a pivotal point in the show’s larger narrative.

Frank Underwood, “House of Cards” Another series that had to do some quick-thinking in order to explain the loss of its principal star was “House of Cards,” which opened its last season with Frank Underwood dead and buried — actor Kevin Spacey was ousted suddenly over allegations of sexual misconduct. However, the mystery of what happened remained until the finale, when it’s revealed that his trusty fixer Doug Stamper intentionally gave him too much of his liver medication in an attempt to protect Frank's legacy from himself. It may have seemed a bit too open-and-shut, but the series pulled off the big reveal in the eleventh hour before the credits rolled on Frank and Claire Underwood’s presidencies for the last time.