Los Angeles, CA — Despite a tentative agreement announced yesterday, with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the 48,000 members of United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) will keep in place a decision to hold a vote March 20-25 on whether to give their union leadership the right to call a strike against the District.

UTLA said the result of the vote will be available by the end of the day on March 26.

The vote was set before the district had reached a tentative agreement with UTLA and its other seven unions that calls for a major redesign of health plans led by a Health Benefits Committee (HBC).

The LAUSD projects it will save more than $200 million over three years through the reforms contained in the proposal. The plan allows LAUSD employees, retirees and their dependents to continue paying zero monthly premiums for their health benefits through the end of 2009. Any changes through 2011 will be determined by the HBC.

This new tentative agreement must still be ratified by the board of education and the various union memberships.

Meanwhile, the teachers still plan to take the strike authorization vote because their regular contract is still being negotiated. According to a UTLA spokesperson, the two sides continue to be at odds over issues such as safety, proposed lay-offs and student assessments.

The strike authorization vote does not mean teachers will actually walk the picket line but it gives union officers the right to call a strike, if members reject the district’s “last and best offer.”

This action is the latest in a series of protest efforts UTLA has been conducting this year.
Previously on Jan. 29, an estimated 15,000 teachers, parents, students, community people, and other union members marched through downtown Los Angeles from District headquarters to the state building to protest state and district cuts. Several weeks ago, teachers announced that they would only give students the state- and federally-mandated assessment tests.
UTLA members last went on strike in 1989.