By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1qIErUM
7/28/14, 6:38 PM PDT | Updated: 7/29 7:40 AM :: With just two weeks before school starts, union leaders representing 35,000 teachers have declined Los Angeles Unified’s offer to conduct contract talks on a daily basis.
The two sides are divided by about $280 million per year in pay increases and other issues, such as the district’s proposal to make teacher evaluations based partly on student performance.
In a letter Monday [follows], UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl rejected the district’s request to expedite bargaining at a time when many members are on summer break and after, he said, administrators delayed negotiations earlier this year by taking several months to counter UTLA’s opening offer.
“We’re going to continue on our course of negotiating with the District, complemented by organizing with our members and with parents and the community for the Schools L.A. Students Deserve,” Caputo-Pearl said in a statement.
Under their current schedule, union leaders and district administrators are set to meet Aug. 6 and Aug. 21. The first day of school at many LAUSD campuses is Aug. 12.
The two sides sat down for their first round of in-person talks on Thursday. At that meeting, UTLA arrived with all seven of its union officers in a surprise shift to so-called “big bargaining” tactics.
Teachers in Chicago used the method leading up to their nine-day strike in early 2012. It calls for a massive bargaining team of union officers, rank-and-file teachers and, UTLA has said it plans on inviting parents and public observers to the negotiations.
UTLA leaders have rejected the district’s offer of 6.64 percent across-the-board raises to be realized over the next two years and an immediate 2 percent, one-time, bonus to be paid immediately.
Caputo-Pearl, who beat incumbent Warren Fletcher in the race for union president earlier this year, promised double digit pay raises of at least 10 percent and said he would oppose grading teachers based on student performance.
Since taking office July 1, Caputo-Pearl has called on union leaders to organize their schools and prepare for a strike.
Before their strike in Chicago, the teachers union there deployed similar tactics and rallied union members and parents behind their cause. The strike ended with teachers securing a 17.6 percent raise over four years and concessions that, among other things, based evaluations partly on student performance.
UTLA leaders are similarly requesting a 17.6 percent raise. And like their counterparts in Chicago, have set about the process of reviewing thousands of pages of district financial records in an effort to find questionable spending. Union leaders here contend the district has plenty of money to meet their demands and point to additional state revenue as a source of funding.
School Superintendent John Deasy, however, has said the district will need to make cuts such as scaling back plans to expand programs to cover its current offer, which would leave the district with a 26.3 percent higher tab for union employees after adding in the rising cost of pension and health care benefits and pay incentives teachers can earn.