LA Teachers Union Rejects Latest Contract Offer from District

The union's rejection of the proposal continues a stalemate that could lead to the first teachers' strike in the district since 1989.

The union representing Los Angeles Unified teachers Wednesday rejected an updated contract offer from the district that includes a retroactive pay raise and a guaranteed additional pay raise for the current school year.

The union's rejection of the proposal continues a stalemate that could lead to the first teachers' strike in the district since 1989.

The district's updated contract offer, dated Tuesday, includes a 3 percent pay raise retroactive to 2017-18, plus a guaranteed 3 percent raise for 2018-19. The district's previous offer included the same raises, but the 2018-19 boost was contingent on the district's financial projections for the next two years. That contingency was removed in the latest offer.

The offer also included language governing class sizes -- another key issue for the United Teachers Los Angeles union.

"Los Angeles Unified remains committed to good-faith bargaining and providing hardworking teachers with better pay and more support," according to a statement from the district. "Los Angeles Unified has made it clear to UTLA leadership it will provide teachers with a 6 percent salary increase with no contingency, set firm boundaries to safeguard against increasing class sizes across the school district and protect health-care benefits for all current UTLA members."

UTLA, however, rejected the offer, calling it "insulting" and "anemic."

"Focusing on salary while doing nothing to improve schools and attract parents and students will lead to the loss of jobs, school closures and ultimately the ruin of the district," UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl.

Union officials contended the latest proposal regarding class sizes is worse than the district's previous offer.

"In fact, the district offer raises class sizes and provides clear pathways to raise them even more in a district and state with some of the highest class sizes in the country," UTLA communications director Anna Bakalis said.

Union officials also said the offer fails to address demands such as hiring of more nurses, counselors and librarians; reductions in standardized testing; and accountability measures for charter schools. The union has also been asking for a 6.5 percent pay increase retroactive to July 1, 2016.

District officials said previously the union's contract proposal would increase the district's $500 million deficit in the current school year by another $813 million.

UTLA members have already voted to authorize union leaders to call a strike. The union and district took part in three state mediation sessions without reaching an agreement, and the dispute is now in a "fact-finding" stage, after which the union could call for a walkout.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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