As we enter the Winter Break, here is a status report on the continuing District-UTLA negotiations:
Salaries: Almost all bargaining units have agreed upon multi-year salary enhancement agreements.
- UTLA initially proposed a 2014-15 salary increase of 17.6%. More recently, it adjusted its proposal to 10%, and then 9%.
- The District first offered UTLA the same multi-year package that the other units have accepted – it totaled an 8.64% increase in earnings, paid over a 3-year period. The offer was rejected by UTLA, leaving the parties $1.8 Billion apart on a 3-year basis when combined with the existing deficits and UTLA’s $500 Million class size proposal.
- When it became clear that UTLA would not consider the 8.64% multi-year assurance, the District recently changed its offer to provide a 6% increase in earnings for 2014-15 (2% on schedule, 4% off-schedule), which would cost $150 Million in salary payments to be implemented without further delay, no strings attached – even as negotiations would continue regarding unresolved non-money items and 2015-16 and 2016-17 salary increases. This District offer required allocation of all available funds from the 2014-15 budget, plus a redirection of $50 Million from the account that had been established to help address the $11 Billion unfunded cost of promised medical insurance covering the post-retirement years of current District employees. UTLA also rejected this offer.
- Since July, the District has also repeatedly requested expedited and concentrated negotiations to bring the salary issues to a close. At the December 16th negotiation session, UTLA agreed to schedule regular weekly meetings after the Winter Break.
- Our District leadership agrees that all District employees deserve additional salary increases, particularly in view of the recent past years of salary freezes and furlough days that were necessary to save jobs and survive the Recession. However, all District salary offers legally must be based upon, and limited to, its available resources. The District’s 2014-15 budget is now balanced and fully committed with its current offer on top of all other expense commitments. The District has offered to open its books should UTLA have any questions about its budget condition.
- The Board of Education will soon be turning toward balancing the $326 Million deficit that the District faces for the next school year (2015-16). Balancing that budget will unavoidably involve some cutbacks in services and programs.
Evaluations: In October, the District sent UTLA a Call for Collaboration to strengthen, streamline and build shared ownership of our evaluation process. A minimum of three final overall evaluation levels is a requirement for the District to continue to receive approximately $80 million in Federal grant funds. UTLA is proposing to amend Article X of the Collective Bargaining Agreement so that the recent improved evaluation practices are rolled back.
Class Size: The District recently has made significant investments to reduce class sizes, and hopes to be able to afford future improvements, particularly for secondary schools – but class size expenses affect the same budget, and are therefore quite constrained by the current budget limitations and salary negotiations. UTLA has proposed approximately $500 Million in further class size reductions to take place in 2015-16 (cost equivalent of a 20% salary increase), along with substantive changes to the applicable contract language covering class size. Such significant budgetary impacts will be part of the Board of Education’s upcoming budget-balancing deliberations described above. The District has posed questions to UTLA about its class size proposals, and anticipates ongoing discussions – but as with salary increases, the issue is not about the desirability of reduced class sizes, but rather about how to prioritize the high expenses of such improvements with other high-dollar priorities, including salary increases.
Investigations of Alleged Misconduct: The District and UTLA are discussing a role for UTLA to participate in a pilot Case Review Committee to give early consideration and advice to senior management as to whether or not teachers under investigation for allegations of misconduct should or should not be reassigned to another school or to their home pending the outcome of the investigation.
MISIS: The timing of the MISIS implementation was driven by court-enforced requirements to improve the District’s student information system relating to services to students with special needs. It has been the subject of much discussion with UTLA, resulting in agreement to provide additional pay for the additional work time caused by problems with implementation of the new system, to provide additional IT support, and to establish a Technology Advisory Committee to monitor and provide advice to the District relating to MISIS and also any other new technology initiatives.
Grievance Procedures: UTLA and the District are working together to improve the operations of their Grievance and Arbitration system – including the possibility of building in some new procedures to encourage resolution of disputes before Arbitration.
Restorative Justice: The District has offered UTLA the opportunity to appoint five representatives to the Positive Intervention Support Task Force.
School Safety: The District and UTLA are working closely toward some improvements on this matter, including linkage to the grievance procedure, and toward some role for the Local School Leadership Council.
Shared Decision Making: The District has proposed expansion of parent participation on Local School Leadership Councils (LSLC). UTLA has proposed expansions of the responsibilities of the LSLC. Both aspects are under continued discussion.
Substitute Representation: The District provided UTLA a counter proposal on informing a substitute teacher of the right to representation at an administrative conference.
Other Matters: In response to the District’s repeated requests, UTLA has agreed with the District to schedule eight dates in January and February to accelerate their constructive discussion of the above matters, and also to other matters such as the process for creation, collapse and/or elimination of Small Learning Communities; the process for the conversion to (and staffing for) magnet schools; and improving the process of placing displaced teachers back into regular school assignments.
Ramon C. Cortines
Ramon C. Cortines
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