2 other big crises trouble residents
Haya El Nasser
LOS ANGELES _ This troubled city has at least two other crises on its front
pages today _ the Reginald Denny beating and a teachers' strike vote.
Attorneys for three black men charged with beating Denny, a white trucker, will
be in court today to iron out details for the March 15 trial.
Denny was dragged from his rig and severely beaten last year _ in front of news
cameras _ at the start of rioting sparked by the acquittal of police in the first
The prospect of overlapping, high profile trials adds to concerns about more
And the prospect of the district's 641,000 students home or under the supervision
of substitute teachers, administrators, and volunteers while the trials are held has
many on edge.
But if high school math teacher Warren Zarrell is any indication, the
second-largest school district could face a walkout by a 26,000-teachers union
Another 6,000 non-union teachers, including part-timers, could join in.
"I'd rather walk out than agree to a contract like this," says Zarrell, who cast his
vote this week against a contract offer that would reduce a 12% pay cut to 10%.
Without cuts, the district faces a $400 million shortfall.
Teachers voted to strike once during the 10-month negotiations. But a walkout
set for this week was narrowly averted after State Assembly Speaker Willie
Brown proposed the reduced cut, which was accepted by union leaders and the
"There's lots of anger out there," admits union spokeswoman Catherine Carey.
"They don't want pay cuts and I don't blame them."
The union argues that despite the pay cut, the contract gives teachers more
decision-making power on campus _ like what grades to teach.
But that's not enough, says long-time English teacher Marti Sutherland.
"I'm so angry," she says. "We risk our lives every day doing a job nobody wants
to do, teaching children nobody wants to teach."
Contributing: Jonathan T. Lovitt