"This is a very somber decision. We have no intention to disrupt the system, but we have to make a statement," said UTLA President A.J. Duffy.
The strike decision comes as Californians get ready to vote in a special election. The propositions on the ballot include funding for schools. Cortines fears a strike by teachers could scare off support.
"I believe it sends the wrong message," said Cortines. "These propositions are very important to us because if they do not pass it could mean an additional $200 million cut."
Union officials say the upcoming election is on their minds, but their decision is more about federal stimulus funding that they feel is being misused.
"The money is there to hire back every teacher," Duffy explained. "The intent of Congress and the president is to use it, and to save jobs now."
Budget problems forced the LAUSD to send layoff notices to 5,400 employees, telling them their jobs could be eliminated. The layoffs are aimed at closing the district's $596 million budget gap.
Since the notices were sent, close to 1,400 district employees have signed up for early retirement. Their departure could save the jobs of some of those who received layoff notices.
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