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Judge prohibits L.A. teachers strike

He grants a restraining order against the walkout planned for Friday, saying it defies the United Teachers union contract.

May 13, 2009|Howard Blume

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Tuesday prohibited the city's teachers union from staging a one-day strike this week to protest layoffs and other budget-cutting proposals. The United Teachers Los Angeles contract explicitly bars a strike, said Judge James C. Chalfant, who also cited concerns about student health, safety and welfare in granting the restraining order against Friday's planned walkout.

Supt. Ramon C. Cortines hailed the decision as a victory for students and education in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He added: "I am more than willing to meet with the bargaining unit. This gives us some time now to come together."

In a letter to teachers, Cortines warned of possible discipline for those who strike Friday in violation of both the contract and the court order.

Because of a budget shortfall, more than 2,500 teachers without tenure could lose their jobs July 1. In addition, hundreds of others could be bumped out of their current positions and onto other campuses. About 2,600 non-teaching employees also could lose jobs.

The union wants L.A. Unified to use as much federal economic stimulus money as necessary to avoid teacher layoffs in the 2009-2010 school year. District officials have apportioned about half of the money for the following year because of dire economic forecasts for California.

The district aborted plans for ending the school day early Friday and will conduct Advanced Placement testing as previously scheduled. But about 150 scheduled field trips remain canceled, including one to the county Natural History Museum for 20th Street Elementary and another to Glendale Community College for Lincoln High. Tennis championships and track and field playoffs must be rescheduled.

Union leaders met with their attorneys Tuesday to weigh options, said UTLA President A.J. Duffy.

"It is unfortunate that the courts ruled against our members' democratic right to protest class-size increases and layoffs and to stand up for students," Duffy said in a statement

A school-day rally called by some parents, dubbed the Lemonade Initiative, will go forward as planned at 10 a.m. Friday at the Balboa Park soccer fields in Encino.

Organizers have been critical of both the school system and the union.

"This is about the parents having a voice," said parent Elisa Taub. "The court decision has changed nothing. The system is still broken."

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howard.blume@latimes.com

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