Negotiators for LA Unified and the teachers union, UTLA, resume contract talks later today amid charges and counter-charges of which side is responsible for the lack of progress. Teachers are set to return for the opening of the school year next week.
Late last week, the sides exchanged letters, each sharp in tone, that sought to blame the other for delays, miscommunications and disagreements over how the negotiating sessions should play out.
While the accusations are the usual stuff of collective bargaining involving public entities, the missives were helpful in at least one respect. Maybe for the first time publicly, in a July 28 letter to the district’s chief negotiator, Vivian Ekchian, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl clarified that 17.6 percent salary increase the union is demanding would cover a two-year period, last year and the year ahead.
Until now, the union had not specified a period of time.
Caputo-Pearl’s letter is posted on the UTLA website, and it calls the district’s latest offer — raises of 2 percent, 2 percent and 2.5 percent for three years — “lethargic” and further accuses the district of ignoring other union concerns, including issues of staffing and class sizes.
Ekchian responded a day later, accusing the union of not taking a new contract serious enough to warrant more frequent negotiating sessions, with the start of school so close at hand.
She also took Caputo-Pearl to task over “your now seemingly ritual, repeated threats of strike” against the backdrop of only a single negotiating session.
To anyone who has followed high-profile labor negotiations, the current backing-and-forthing, including threats of a strike, is not unusual when sides are far apart and communications sound as if they are taking place on AM and FM.
That all could change, of course, during today’s session, scheduled for 1 pm to 4 pm.
Previous Posts: Deasy on UTLA’s talk of a strike: ‘breathtakingly irresponsible’; Teachers union leaders updating members on strike potential; Strike talk emerges on Caputo-Pearl’s first day as union chief