Colorado governor works to try to prevent teacher strike

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Teachers in the United States city of Los Angeles have approved a contract deal between their union and school officials, ending a six-day strike that disrupted classes for almost half a million students.

The vote by members of the United Teachers Los Angeles union enables teachers to return to work on Wednesday, ending a battle that left 600,000 students in limbo.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who mediated the talks, announced the agreement at a news conference with Caputo-Pearl and Austin Beutner, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Although all votes haven't been counted, the union said Tuesday evening that a "supermajority" of its 30,000 members voted in favor of the tentative agreement.

The deal was broadly described by officials at the news conference as including a 6 percent pay hike and a commitment to reduce class sizes over four years. Attendance at schools dropped, according to the district.

Additional counselors and librarians are also part of the planned increase in support staff.

"We've negotiated in very good faith", she said.

"This is not just for teachers".

"We got nearly everything we asked for, just about", said Pak, who teaches 8th grade English.

The new contract also eliminates a longstanding clause that gave the district authority over class sizes, officials said.

The settlement came after tens of thousands of teachers in the nation's second-largest public school system marched in downtown Los Angeles and picketed outside schools for six school days, and after a round of marathon negotiating sessions over the holiday weekend.

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Beutner reiterated his insistence that the district does not have the money to fully meet UTLA's demands, but said he is prepared to continue talks "to do what we have to do to make sure schools are open on Tuesday". But he hinted that financial challenges remained.

The 3 percent wage increase for educators will do nothing to relieve teachers who have suffered a decade-long pay freeze and face some of the highest housing costs in the US.

"That's an opportunity gap", Beutner said.

The Los Angeles school board is expected to formally approve the deal on January 29.

The Board of Education was expected to move quickly to ratify the deal, which would expire at the end of June 2022.

We're fighting hard on privatization in Los Angeles - I think we really put the spotlight on this question statewide.

Garcetti called the tentative deal a "historic agreement".

Signs late Monday night pointed to a probable settlement of the Los Angeles teachers strike, but not in time to get teachers back into classrooms on Tuesday. The former investment banker said he looked forward to "more collaboration" with the union. They slowed down as they drove through puddles so as not to splash us and sometimes stopped to tell us how much teachers have meant to them. "The sun's out. When we started, it was all rainy and cold".

Teachers hoped to build on the "Red4Ed" movement that began past year in West Virginia and moved to Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado and Washington state. It spread from conservative states with "right to work" laws that limit the ability to strike to the more liberal West Coast with strong unions.

To keep schools functioning, the district will look to its pool of substitutes if the teachers strike, Cordova said.

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