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Teachers union flatly rejects latest LA Unified labor contract offer

LA School Report | February 12, 2015

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UTLA-Contract-NegotiationsThe teachers union today made it official, flatly rejecting LA Unified’s most recent contract offer, which included a five percent salary rise, a nine percent increase in minimum salary for first-year teachers and additional money to lower class size.

With the union sticking by its demand of an 8.5 percent salary increase, the sides remain $800 million apart, according to district calculations. A district statement released tonight said its negotiators asked their counterparts to identify other sources for the money but did not, apparently, get a response.

“I’m very disappointed in UTLA’s unwillingness to accept our responsible offer,” Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in the statement. “We are dealing with a budget that has had a deficit for three years and we are trying to balance it. Again, we must learn to live within our means as we preserve vital and necessary educational services for our students.”

The union, UTLA, confirmed its rejection in a short statement, adding, “The offer was insufficient. No new proposals were offered today by either side.”

UTLA remains the only district labor partner that remains without a new contract. The others have accepted a two percent salary increase, which the teachers scoffed at when they were offered the same amount in the district’s opening offer.

About the only good news emerging from today’s meeting is that there is another bargaining session scheduled on Feb. 18, with additional meetings to follow though the end of March.

Whether any amount of time will make much of a difference is the open question. In his response to district-wide teacher protests this morning, Cortines hinted that the district’s latest offer may be it’s last, and his statement tonight did little to alter that impression.

The teachers, on the other hand, have not had a raise in more than seven years and have spent months drumming up community support for their demands.

After several concessions on its salary demand over the months —  from 10 percent to 9 to the most recent 8.5 percent — the union’s unwillingness to lower it again suggests that it, too, may have hit a bargaining redline.

If it’s true that both sides have reached a limit, the possibility of a strike would appear all the more real.

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