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LAUSD teachers union negotiations reaches stalemate

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia
Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

The union representing Los Angeles Unified School District teachers declared an impasse today in its contract negotiations with the district, saying there is a “significant gap between the two sides on compensation,” and district officials said they hope a mediator will be able to resolve outstanding issues.

The union plans to ask the Public Employment Relations Board to affirm that the talks have deadlocked and appoint a mediator. If mediation fails to lead to an agreement, a fact-finding period will begin, after which the union could call a strike.

“UTLA will not accept a piecemeal agreement that addresses only one or two issues, which fails to improve student learning conditions and educator working conditions,” according to the union. “We will continue our aggressive organizing campaign through every stage of this process.”

Superintendent Ramon Cortines said last week the district had offered a 5 percent pay raise, retroactive to July 1, 2014. The union rejected the offer. Cortines said offering any more “could result in reduction in services to students and layoffs, across the board, throughout the district.”

LAUSD officials said today they agreed with the union’s decision to declare an impasse, saying its 5 percent pay raise offer remains on the table, along with proposals on teacher evaluations, parent engagement and reducing class sizes.

“I’ve been disappointed and frustrated by the lack of progress toward an agreement,” Cortines said. “It’s my hope that the appointment of a mediator will lead to an expeditious settlement that ultimately supports our students and the district at large.”

District officials said they remain $800 million apart in negotiations.

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl has said he believes the threat of layoffs is a scare tactic, insisting that the LAUSD will have money thanks to rising state revenues.

The union is demanding an 8.5 percent pay raise “for educators who have not had a pay raise or cost-of-living increase in eight years.”

“During this period, educators actually saw their pay cut due to furlough days which kept the district afloat,” according to the union. “Despite these sacrifices, LAUSD is only offering a 5 percent increase, refusing to bargain in good faith on student learning conditions and threatening educator layoffs as a scare tactic.”

District officials said they have repeatedly asked the union to identify sources of funding that it claims will be available to finance teacher salary increases. It has also offered an independent review of the district’s books.

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