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JUST IN: Teachers union, LAUSD reach tentative contract agreement

Craig Clough | April 18, 2015

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contract settlement2United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the second largest teachers union in the country, has reached a tentative agreement with LA Unified, according to an announcement issued by UTLA late last night. The new contract would includes a 10 percent raise over two years, likely bringing to an end the threat of a strike that has been in the air since the summer.

Officials from LA Unified have not confirmed that an agreement has been reached.

News of the agreement came after the district and the union had met numerous times with a mediator this week, a result of state mandated negotiations after the two sides declared an impasse earlier this year.  Friday’s meeting was the fourth with the mediator, one more than required by law.

Ratification of the tentative agreement will be needed from the 35,000 union members and the LA Unified school board. 

Since talk of a new contract began last year, UTLA has seen a change in leadership, from Warren Fletcher to Alex Caputo-Pearl.  Caputo-Pearl immediately took a tougher stance and set about organizing the union — which has gone without a raise in over seven years — to prepare for a strike if it didn’t get a satisfactory contract.

For months UTLA stuck with its original demand for a 17.6 percent raise, rejecting a 6.6 percent raise with a 2 percent bonus offered by the district in October.

But a change of leadership at the district added to the uncertainty. Superintendent John Deasy, long reviled by union leadership, was replaced by Ray Cortines in October.

At about the same time UTLA trimmed its demands to a 10 percent raise.

But there was little progress with the new superintendent. Cortines questioned – sometimes using harsh language – how the district would pay for the raises.  In January Cortines called the union’s demands “entirely unrealistic” while asserting that they raise “serious ethical and equity issues” for the district.

Cortines also said that to pay for the salary increase UTLA was demanding would require employee layoffs in “catastrophic numbers that would dwarf the impacts of the recent Recession.” In February the two sides declared an impasse.

Details of the agreement on issues such as class size reduction are not yet available.  Also unclear is how the agreement would impact contracts the district has with other unions, many of which signed deals over the last year that are less than what UTLA would gain with the tentative agreement.

Those unions have a “me too” clause included in most of the signed agreements that allows a union the opportunity to re-open salary negotiations should the school board approve a higher raise for another union. It is unclear if the “me too” clauses will result in the reopening of negotiations with other unions.

According to information posted on the UTLA website, the tentative agreement includes:

  • A 10 percent on-the-scale salary increase over 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, with a salary re-opener in 2016-2017, including a 4 percent raise retroactive to July 1.
  • Class size caps in the contract and a re-iteration of class size averages in the contract, although details were not released.
  • $13 million for targeted class size reduction in grades 8-9.
  • A secondary counselor ratio in the contract (500-to-1) and an additional $13 million devoted to secondary counselors to achieve the ratio in 2015-2016.
  •  Health Services Task Force to develop strategies for increasing nursing, counseling, social work, and social/emotional health services.
  • New agreements on the re-assignment of employees under investigation.
  • A teacher evaluation system that will be jointly developed by 2016-17 and replace the Teacher Growth and Development Cycle, which PERB in December ruled was illegal.

Come back to LA School Report for more on the tentative agreement between UTLA and LAUSD.


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