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LA Unified increases salary offer to teachers, but does it really?

Michael Janofsky | February 5, 2015

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UTLA-Contract-NegotiationsLA Unified today revised its salary offer to the teachers union today, increasing the level of raises to 5 percent, one percent above its previous offer.

But the additional money for professional development that was included in the earlier offer, which the district had valued at another 2 percent, was not part of the new offer. The district said that money was reallocated to support the extra one percent, making it appear that the newest offer was less than the previous.

In any case, the union quickly rejected the revision, releasing a statement this evening that said, “UTLA is holding firm in our demand for an 8.5 percent one year increase for educators who have not had a pay raise or a cost of living adjustment in nearly eight years.”

The district also revised its proposal on several other issues, including minimum salary and class size, But the union gave no indication that it drew the sides any closer to an agreement than they had been — and “close” would hardly describe it, six months into the talks.

While conceding that the district had at least countered the union’s class-size demand for the first time, the union said, “it does not go far enough to reduce class sizes and calls for adjustment caps set by LAUSD unilaterally.”

The union also complained that the district offered no counter-proposal on ratios for Health and Human Services professionals. “There are far too few counselors, librarians, and other HHS staff to serve the needs of the District’s 651,000 K-12 students,” it said, adding that it was “particularly alarming that there is not a full time nurse at every school while a measles outbreak is right at the door of LAUSD.

At a morning press conference before the bargaining session, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said: “This is an example of how the lack of staffing becomes a threat to people’s safety and health.”

Efforts to reach the district’s chief negotiator, Vivian Ekchian, were unsuccessful.

The continued apparent lack of progress comes as campaigning for three school board seats is heating up.  From tonight through Feb. 18, seven forums are scheduled to give candidates running for seats in Districts 3, 5 and 7 a chance to weigh in on contract negotiations and a slew of other issues.

As for negotiations, they will continue weekly until one side or the other sees no future in them and calls for an impasse to be declared. At that point, the sides submit proposals to a mediator, who would try to bring them together.

Should that fail, the union has the option to call a strike, something its leadership has been threatening since last summer and preparing for ever since, with $3 million added to a strike fund and weekly rallies around the district.

UTLA is planning “informational picketing and leafleting” at all district schools on Feb. 12, followed by a “mass rally” two weeks later.

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