By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/19kYZeR
Posted: 02/12/15, 7:21 PM PST :: After staging protests at schools across Los Angeles Unified on Thursday morning, United Teachers Los Angeles leaders headed back to the bargaining table to reject an immediate pay raise of 5 percent.
Superintendent Ramon Cortines said meeting UTLA’s demands for an 8.5 percent pay raise and 5,000 new teachers to reduce class sizes would lead to crippling cuts and layoffs, according to a statement he released Thursday morning after educators put down their signs and went to work.
“I’m very disappointed in UTLA’s unwillingness to accept our responsible offer,” Cortines said in a written statement following Thursday’s round of negotiations. “We are dealing with a budget that has had a deficit for three years and we are trying to balance it.”
UTLA spokeswoman Suzanne Spurgeon called LAUSD’s offer “insufficient” in a written statement that noted new offers were not made in Thursday’s round of talks.
The two sides remain about $800 million apart per year. Last week the district increased its offer by one percentage point to an immediate salary hike of 5 percent, which would include more than seven months of back pay.
LAUSD would also increase the starting salary of freshman teachers to $50,0000 and fund $26 million in class size reductions.
The teachers union, however, is holding to its demands for an immediate 8.5 percent raise and 5,000 additional educators to reduce class sizes at an estimated budget cost of more than $525 million.
Thursday’s district-wide picket lines mark the union’s most widespread effort to date, as it continues a series of “escalating actions” in preparation for a strike.
UTLA’s organizing efforts will face their greatest test Feb. 26, when the union’s leadership plans on assembling as many of its 35,000 members as possible in downtown Los Angeles’ Grant Park for a massive demonstration, just days before a primary election that could decide three of seven seats on LAUSD’s school board.
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