LAUSD board approves labor deals — but not yet for teachers
Vanessa Romo | July 2, 2014
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The LA Unified School Board yesterday unanimously approved labor contracts for four of its major union partners, all of which would put (at least a little) more cash in the pockets of employees after years of devastating budget cuts and furlough days.
The district signed off on deals with Service Employees International Union Local 99 (SEIU), Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (AALA) and Teamsters Local 572, agreeing to salary increases of roughly 2 percent over the next two years and 2.5 percent in 2016. The proposed contract with the California School Employee Association (CSEA), made up of library aides, gardeners and payroll clerks, includes a retroactive 2 percent payment for 2013-14.
“I’m really proud that we didn’t do what was easy and take on just one chunk,” Board member Monica Garcia said, before enthusiastically declaring her support for the separate agreements.
Then, referring to the ongoing negotiations with the teachers union, UTLA, she added, “For those who haven’t yet concluded their deal, know that we are excited to stand with you. And to invest in your members, also.”
Negotiations with the teachers union are expected to begin later this month, said Vivian Ekchian, the district’s chief labor negotiator.
The agreement with SEIU includes nearly doubling hourly wages for about 20,000 school workers to $15 from $8-9 per hour by July 2016.
“No school employee in this city, state or nation should live in poverty,” board member Steve Zimmer said. By raising the minimum wage, “we approved an agreement that will eradicate poverty and elevate those who work with our most precious resource; the next generation.
But some SEIU employees who currently earn above $15 an hour said they were disappointed with the agreement. They will get a 6.64 percent raise, phased in over three years, and they are the only group that will not be receiving a 2 percent lump sum for the recently ended school year.
“This is an unfair agreement that divides the poor against the other poor,” Kathryn Torres, former chair of SEIU’s political action committee told the board before urging them to vote against the contract.
Torres said she is gathering signatures for a petition demanding the bargaining team “go back to the table.” But her efforts may be moot if a majority of members approves the contract by 6 p.m. today.
More than 2,300 administrators represented by ALAA, will get the same salary increases, plus the retroactive 2 percent payment. Additionally, it provides for a “performance incentive for employees with a highly effective or effective evaluation in the 2015-2016 year.”
The board also agreed to spend up to $40 million in a pilot program to buy 19,300 laptops for high school students and staff in the next phase of the district’s one-to-one technology plan.
The new computers will be tested at 27 high schools beginning in the fall. Each school can choose from one of six models and a corresponding curriculum.
“The options that we have in [this phase] will allow us to see different devices and different curriculum,” board member Monica Ratliff said. “That is fantastic!”
Outcomes of the trial period will determine which devices and curriculum the district chooses to purchase for all high school students and potentially, Ratliff suggested, students in middle school.