Tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers are striking after contentious contract negotiations failed in the nation's second-largest school district, the AP reports. Members of United Teachers Los Angeles voted last year to walk off the job for the first time in 30 years if a deal wasn't reached on issues including higher wages and smaller class sizes. The strike began Monday after months of talks between the union and the Los Angeles Unified School District ended without a deal. Schools will stay open, however, because the district has hired hundreds of substitutes to replace teachers and others who leave for picket lines.
The teachers' union rejected an offer Friday from the district, calling the proposal "woefully inadequate." The district proposed a 6% salary increase over the first two years of a three-year contract. The UTLA says it wants a 6.5% hike that would take effect all at once and be retroactive to fiscal 2017. The district says the union's demands could bankrupt the school system. It's projecting a half-billion-dollar deficit this budget year and has billions obligated for pension payments and health coverage for retired teachers.
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