Los Angeles Teachers Strike

Richard Vogel / AP

Actor, musician and activist, Steven Van Zandt, in the center, supports teachers on strike in front of Hamilton High School in Los Angeles on Wednesday, January 16, 2019.

Updated Wednesday, January 16, 2019 | 1:56 p.m.

LOS ANGELES – The president of the Los Angeles Teachers' Union alluded to the resumption of contract negotiations on Wednesday as striking educators from the country's second-largest school district demonstrated to hundreds of schools during a third round of talks. day.

United Teachers of Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said the union had "hired" Mayor Eric Garcetti in the dispute over wages, class size and the number of support staff that led to the first strike of the past 30 years and encouraged the school district to staff the halls with substitute teachers.

Caputo-Pearl has not provided any other details. The mayor lacks authority over the unified school district of Los Angeles but has been involved in finding a solution.

"We will have more information for you later in the day about the bargaining table and when we come back to this bargaining table," said Caputo-Pearl to teachers gathered in the rain, at the 39 outside a high school.

Parents and children – one of them holding a sign saying "This will not happen at Hogwarts" – have joined the picket lines. The rocker and actor Steven Van Zandt, an advocate of arts education, also paraded, claiming that teachers are on the front lines "fighting against ignorance".

District officials urge the union to resume negotiations, but said its demands could put the school system out of business with 640,000 students.

"We need our educators back in our classrooms to inspire our students," Superintendent Austin Beutner said Tuesday.

All 1,240 K-12 schools in the district are open, breaking with successful strikes in other states that have encouraged the Los Angeles union to take action. The directors hired hundreds of alternates to replace tens of thousands of teachers, which the union calls irresponsible.

The first day of the walkout on Monday attracted approximately 144,000 students. This number rose to 159,000 on Tuesday. Students who miss classes during the strike will be absent, but the headmaster of each school will decide if they will suffer the consequences, the district said.

Some parents who sent their children to school wondered how much instruction was provided when students were grouped in large groups.

David Biener said his son and daughter had filled math and history spreadsheets while sitting on the floor of their college gym.

"This is not an ideal situation, of course, but there has been an ongoing apprenticeship," he said on Tuesday. "It was not a game for all."

The union rejected the district's latest offer to hire nearly 1,200 teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians and reduce the class sizes of two students. It also included a previously proposed 6% increase over the first two years of a three year contract. The union wants a rise of 6.5% at the start of a two-year contract.

Caputo-Pearl, the union president, said the members were "ready to go as long as necessary" to get a fair deal. The last strike of 1989 lasted nine days.

Beutner, the superintendent, urged teachers to join him in asking for more funding from the state, which provides 90% of the district's money.

Los Angeles Unified said that teachers' demands were facing a deficit estimated at half a billion dollars for this fiscal year and billions of obligations for the payment of pensions and health care coverage of teachers retirees.

"The painful truth is that we simply do not have enough money," Beutner said.

The union says the district has accumulated $ 1.8 billion in reserves. It represents more than 30,000 teachers who earn between $ 44,000 and $ 86,000 a year based on their education and experience.

John Antczak, an Associated Press reporter in Los Angeles, contributed to this report.