Wednesday, February 11, 2009


NBC Los Angeles 


BREAKING NEWS: 4:00 PM PST, Wed, Feb 11, 2009

AP - Jan. 29, 2008: Hundreds of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers and others take to the streets in a rally organized by their union, United Teachers Los Angeles, to protest state and local cuts to schools funding, in downtown Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES -- One day after the union representing Los Angeles Unified School District teachers unveiled plans to hold a strike authorization vote, a tentative agreement on health benefits was announced Wednesday between the the district and its eight employee unions.

"This is a watershed agreement that's not only win-win for the district and our employees, but that redefines how we will move forward together," said LAUSD board president Monica Garcia. "This is a long-term investment in change."

The tentative deal still needs to be ratified by the Board of Education and the eight unions.

According to UTLA, the agreement would fully fund current health benefits and pay for increases over the next two years.

"The unions successfully fought off all the cuts and take-backs that LAUSD had demanded," according to a statement posted on the union's Web site.

David Holmquist, the LAUSD's chief operating officer, said the agreement is equivalent to a 2 percent pay raise in 2009 and an overall 3.5 percent increase through 2011.

According to the district, the agreement would cap at 3.5 percent the amount that health care benefit costs can grow annually. If providers increase prices at higher rates, representatives of the unions and the district's Health Benefits Committee would be required to change the health plans to keep them within budget.

By restructuring the district's health plan, the LAUSD expects to actually save

more than $200 million over three years. The proposal allows employees, retirees and their dependents to continue paying zero monthly premiums through the end of the year, district officials said.

In addition to UTLA, the agreement would also apply to the California School Employees Association, Los Angeles Building Construction & Trade Council, Los Angeles School Police Association, Service Employees International Union, Los Angeles School Police Sergeants & Lieutenants Association, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 572 and Associated Administrators of Los Angeles.

UTLA still plans to hold a strike authorization vote March 20-25, as regular contract negotiations with the district continue. Those talks have been continuing for the past 18 months.

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