District and UTLA Meet Again for Contract Talks

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 10, 2014) -- Representatives of L.A. Unified met again today with their counterparts from United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). Unfortunately, the union leaders weren’t ready to talk about raises at the table.  While the parties discussed implementation of the My Integrated Student Integrated System, (MiSiS), a data-tracking system, UTLA again declined to discuss salary increases.
 
“Teachers certainly deserve a bigger pay check,” Superintendent John E. Deasy said.  “Finally, after years of severe budget cuts, we can afford to provide some relief that our teachers well deserve. We want to give raises.”
 
Chief Labor Negotiator Vivian Ekchian added, “While discussions around MiSiS implementation are very important, it shouldn’t preclude us from spending at least equal time on discussing salary increases.”
 
The District has offered UTLA members an 8.64% salary increase over three years (including a one-time lump sum for 2013-14.) The total compensation increase amounts to 26.3 percent over the three-year period, including the new higher pension contributions required by state law, health benefit increases and increases for additional experience and education. In addition to the proposed compensation, the District has already provided lower class sizes—fewer students per teacher, rehired thousands of previously laid-off UTLA members and restored multiple programs. 
 
Most L. A. Unified employees are receiving the equivalent of an 8.64 percent increase over three years.  They received the first two percent starting with last month’s paycheck.  Next week, they are scheduled to receive a lump-sum payment amounting to 2 percent of last year’s base pay salary and over the following two years will receive 4.5 percent in additional increases.
 
The teachers union is holding out for 17.6 percent--nearly triple the rate agreed to by other District employees—over three years.  The District cannot afford that hefty raise without a return to layoffs, dreaded unpaid furlough days, a shortened school year, reduced summer school and repeated deep cuts in staff and services needed to balance recent budgets.
 
More talks are needed. The District offered to schedule eight meetings in September. However, UTLA agreed to only two, and declined to discuss salary increases at both meetings.
 
But this didn’t stop UTLA leadership from claiming that $507 million in ending balances from the District’s 2013-14 budget is now available for salary increases – while knowing that last spring the vast majority of those funds were folded into the 2014-15 budget. The Board of Education invested in current programs, local school budgets and jobs – primarily UTLA-represented jobs.  Earlier this week, the Board set aside all remaining funds in a special reserve to assist in funding the District’s current salary offer to UTLA.
 
The District and UTLA are not scheduled to meet again until October 2.  In the interim, the District has offered to meet anytime if UTLA is interested in doing so.
 
                                                                  ###

Contact: Gayle Pollard-Terry (213) 241-6766