Friday, December 19, 2014

2 STORIES: UTLA LOWERS SALARY DEMAND, says pay proposal lowered in hopes of reaching a deal in the next few months

UTLA drops salary demand to 9 percent over 1 year

by LA School Report |

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of UTLA

Posted on December 17, 2014 9:16 am  ::  Representatives for the teachers union, UTLA, lowered their salary demand yesterday, asking LA Unified for a one-year 9 percent pay increase for the current academic year, with future increases tied to that.

Vivian Ekchian, the district’s chief negotiator, said the proposal “is under review and we will ascertain the cost to the District.”

While the shift suggests movement in contract negotiations that have been stumbling along for months, it still leaves the side far apart, with the district holding to a 2 percent salary increase and one-time bonuses.

<< Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of UTLA

The union said on its website that its new demand was done as an effort “to increase the pace of bargaining.” In the same vein, it called for weekly negotiation sessions, starting in January even though the sides have been meeting almost once a week since the talks began.

The union’s latest proposal also included demands for three self-directed voluntary planning and collaboration days to be paid at hourly rate, stipends of $1,000 for materials, full rate pay for professional development  and a potential retirement incentive.

Fully anticipating no immediate agreement from the district, the union’s website said Gov. Jerry Brown‘s new budget in January will reflect how much money LA Unified can expect from the state.


Teachers union lowers pay proposal, prepares to picket LAUSD campuses

By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News |

Posted: 12/17/14, 5:40 PM PST  ::  United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl will not be fulfilling his campaign promise of a double-digit pay raise this year, as union leadership backed down from demands for an immediate 10 percent hike.

The 35,000-member teachers union met Tuesday with negotiators for the Los Angeles Unified School District and proposed a 9 percent raise this school year paired with negotiations for additional raises the following year. However, leaders for the school district say they can’t afford to meet the demand.

LAUSD’s latest offer — 4.02 percent in bonuses and an additional 2 percent salary increase to be paid over the next seven months — is $80 million less, and because most of it would be in the form of one-time bonuses, the two sides are divided by $188 million per year in permanent salary hikes.

LAUSD Chief Labor Negotiator Vivian Ekchian said the district simply can’t afford to offer more at this point but will negotiate additional raises for the fiscal year that starts July 1. In order to pay the 4.02 percent in proposed bonuses and 2 percent salary increase this year, LAUSD would have to divert $81 million that was supposed to be set aside to cover the future costs of healthcare benefits for retirees.

“Unfortunately we don’t have another funding source to go to even though we care deeply about our employees and would like to give them more,” Ekchian said.

Caputo-Pearl said the pay proposal was lowered in hopes of reaching a deal in the next few months. Caputo-Pearl said he hopes Superintendent Ramon Cortines and school board members will consider the proposal and direct district negotiators to reach a “fair” agreement.

But in the meantime, he said, union leaders are preparing for a “blitz” of protests, with picket lines to be formed at every campus during January and February, leading up to a massive demonstration at Pershing Square.

The rally, which is expected to draw several thousands educators, is planned for Feb. 26 — six days before voters will elect three members to the school board.

“We know that if it comes to pass that we have to declare impasse, because the district isn’t bargaining with us in a real way, these activities in January and February are going to help us get to a place of strike-readiness,” Caputo-Pearl said.

In response to union skepticism of budget figures, LAUSD offered to open its books for UTLA auditors to inspect and asked union leaders to identify funding sources that could pay for a 9 percent raise in future budget years, Ekchian said.

“We gave them the opportunity to come with as many forensic accountants as they wish and comb through our books,” Ekchian said.

But Caputo-Pearl said the offer was insincere and made along with “veiled threats” of layoffs.

In addition to pay raises, the two sides remain divided over staffing levels, class sizes and a new evaluation system that would judge teachers partially on the performance of their students and provide for incentive-based pay.

Caputo-Pearl, however, commended Cortines for his efforts to hasten the pace of investigations involving teachers who are pulled from classrooms for alleged misconduct. On Wednesday morning Southgate Middle School teacher Stuart Lutz was returned to his class.

Eight months ago, Lutz was removed from the campus where he teaches art for alleged thievery, Caputo-Pearl said.

But after reviewing the case, Cortines put Lutz back to work without disciplinary action. Lutz, who also serves as the campus’ union chair, had been paying for supplies out of pocket – not stealing as alleged, Caputo-Pearl said.

“It really shows how screwed up (former Superintendent John) Deasy’s teacher jail system is and our proposal to do case-by-case reviews should be adopted,” Caputo-Pearl said.

  • The two sides agreed to pick up the pace of negotiations by meeting at least once a week starting Jan. 14 and continuing through the end of February.

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