by Howard Blume | LA Times/LA NOW! Blog
Published: Fri, 18 Sep 2009 11:46:22
Teachers across Los Angeles are pushing to rescind a deal their union leader made that could result in the loss of benefits and work for veteran substitute teachers. Resolutions to cancel the agreement passed overwhelmingly this week at seven of eight local area meetings across the Los Angeles Unified School District, the union has confirmed.
The arrangement under challenge was signed in July by district officials and A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. Under it, about 1,800 newly laid-off teachers advanced to the top of the pool of substitutes, jumping over substitutes with more seniority.
The goal was to keep well-qualified laid-off teachers working, which also would give them an incentive to remain with the district until they could be rehired, said Duffy and Vivian Ekchian, the district’s chief human resources officer.
Because of the ongoing state budget crisis, the district on July 1 laid off about 2,000 teachers who had not yet earned sufficient tenure protections.
Duffy said his expectation was that many, if not nearly all, of the teachers would work as long-term substitutes at the schools where they had been laid off. He said the agreement would provide stability for schools heavily hit by the loss of teachers and keep the next generation of teachers in the system. The primary beneficiary would be students, he said, especially those at high-poverty schools, which had the most displacements because they also employed a greater number of the less experienced teachers.
But substitutes decried the secret negotiations with the district, which were held without representation for them, in possible violation of contract provisions.
Substitutes must work at least one day a month to keep their benefits and must work at least 100 days to earn benefits for the following year. The district typically uses about 2,200 subs a day, so 1,800 new ones could take up most of the work. On the first day of the traditional school year, the district used 1,446 subs, of whom 667 were laid-off teachers working in long-term sub placements.
The veteran subs assert that the deal, which is valid for one year, could undermine seniority protections for all teachers.
“UTLA has acted illegally against its own teachers to subvert the contract,” said substitute committee chairman Dave Peters in an email to fellow subs. “The other teachers need to be educated about the theft of our jobs. Their own jobs and benefits will be in jeopardy if UTLA can so easily sell
Union members so far have sided with the substitutes: The motions to rescind apparently won majority support from all the teachers at this week’s meetings, not just from the subs. The union’s representative body will take up the issue at its October meeting.