Teach­ers a step closer to strike

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Howard Blume howard.blume @la­times.com Twit­ter: @howard­blume

Their me­di­a­tion with L.A. Uni­fied yields no res­o­lu­tion on staffing, pay. State board will re­view com­plaints.

The union rep­re­sent­ing Los An­ge­les teach­ers moved one step closer to a pos­si­ble strike Fri­day af­ter end­ing me­di­a­tion ses­sions with the L.A. Uni­fied School Dis­trict.

Union of­fi­cials ac­cused the dis­trict of “fail­ing to of­fer any sub­stan­tial pro­pos­als to rein­vest in our schools.”

For their part, dis­trict lead­ers an­nounced that they had filed a com­plaint with a state over­sight board. They al­lege that the union has failed to ne­go­ti­ate in good faith and that any strike would thus be il­le­gal.

The union “has trounced through the im­passe pro­ce­dure in bad faith, in or­der to have cover to ini­ti­ate a strike,” try­ing to “short­cut the process and achieve its bad faith ob­jec­tives,” ac­cord­ing to the dis­trict fil­ing with the Pub­lic Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Board.

The fil­ing also ac­cused the union of mak­ing “histri­on­i­cal de­mands that the me­di­a­tion process wrap up quickly.”

The two sides had three ses­sions with a pro­fes­sional me­di­a­tor, start­ing Sept. 27 and end­ing Fri­day.

The dis­trict is of­fer­ing teach­ers a 3% raise retroac­tive to July 1, 2017, plus an ad­di­tional 3% retroac­tive to this past July.

The sec­ond half would not be per­ma­nent un­less the county cer­ti­fied the dis­trict as fi­nan­cially healthy for the length of the agree­ment. The dis­trict has set­tled with most other em­ployee unions on terms sim­i­lar to these.

The teach­ers have asked for a 6.5% raise that goes back an ad­di­tional year, to July 1, 2016.

The dis­pute goes beyond wages.

“The dis­trict thinks they can buy us off with a mod­est pay raise, but our fight has never been just about salary,” UTLA Pres­i­dent Alex Ca­puto-Pearl said in a state­ment. “What’s driv­ing ed­u­ca­tors is the ab­so­lute need to fix what we see ev­ery day: too many over­crowded class­rooms where kids have to share desks, schools with a nurse only one day a week, and over­loaded psy­chol­o­gists and coun­selors do­ing their best to triage the so­cioe­mo­tional needs of our stu­dents.”

L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beut­ner said that he also would like to in­crease staffing and of­fer larger pay raises but that the dis­trict can’t af­ford it.

Meet­ing the de­mands of what the union calls its last, best and fi­nal of­fer, Beut­ner said, would bank­rupt the dis­trict within a year.

The of­fi­cial com­plaints on each side are pil­ing up be­fore the Pub­lic Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions Board.

L.A. Uni­fied also filed an ear­lier PERB com­plaint al­leg­ing bad-faith bar­gain­ing. And the union said it has filed three com­plaints, in­clud­ing one ac­cus­ing the dis­trict of try­ing to smear Ca­puto-Pearl’s rep­u­ta­tion.

The next step in the ne­go­ti­a­tion process is fact-find­ing. PERB will as­sem­ble a three-mem­ber panel. The board ap­points the chair, and the dis­trict and the union each get to ap­point one mem­ber.

The panel will is­sue a re­port and rec­om­men­da­tions. The process could take any­where from a few weeks to a few months.

Ge­naro Molina Los An­ge­les Times

UNION PRES­I­DENT Alex Ca­puto-Pearl, cen­ter, and L.A. Uni­fied teach­ers are seek­ing a 6.5% raise that goes back to July 1, 2016.

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