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LA schools reach deal with union; teachers will return to work Wednesday

By Nicholas Sakelaris and Darryl Coote
LA schools reach deal with union; teachers will return to work Wednesday
Thousands of teachers rally outside Los Angeles City Hall January 18 during contract talks between the Los Angeles Unified School District and union leaders. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles Unified School District and the teachers union have reached an agreement, ending the district's six-day strike and putting some 30,000 teachers back in the classroom.

United Teachers Los Angeles announced Tuesday night that an overwhelming majority of its members agreed to a deal that would put them back in classes Wednesday.

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"Our members, after a strike that began on Monday, Jan. 14, are going to be heading back to school, to the students that they love and the classrooms that they love and the schools that they love and are committed to," Union president Alex Caputo-Pearl said in announcing the ratification of the deal in a Facebook live.

The announcement was made with only preliminary numbers from the vote having been counted, but already "a vast super majority" of the ballots were in favor of the deal, Caputo-Pearl said, adding that ballot counting would continue Wednesday.

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The two sides reached the deal Tuesday morning while teachers picketed at schools and at City Hall on the sixth day of the strike.

The tentative agreement was reached during a 21-hour bargaining session that ended at 6:15 a.m.

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"Today is a day full of good news," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "Everyone on every side has worked tirelessly to make this happen."

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Garcetti mediated the talks between UTLA President Caputo-Pearl and Superintendent Austin Beutner.

"The strike that nobody wanted is now behind us," Beutner said.

UTLA officials said the deal will improve working conditions for teachers by giving them smaller class sizes, more librarians and nurses and a salary increase for teachers. Teachers would get a 6 percent raise while also getting a "meaningful class size reduction."

Teachers in the second-largest U.S. school district have been on strike since Jan. 14 when about 30,000 teachers walked off the job to fight for higher wages, smaller class sizes and additional support staff.

Schools remained open with only a skeleton crew there to manage the few students who showed up.

UTLA set up a Tuesday morning march with firefighters, a news conference and a rally at the Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters downtown. The rally was canceled after the tentative deal was reached.

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"It's a historic day today in Los Angeles," union president Alex Caputo-Peal said.

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