Los Angeles Teachers Union Declares Impasse Over Contract

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The United Teachers Los Angeles union has filed an impasse request with the state agency and is one step closer toward a possible strike.

The union has been in negotiations with the district, the second-largest in the nation, since July.  So far, 18 bargaining sessions have not produced an agreement.  The two sides seem unable to come to terms over compensation.  While the union is asking for an 8.5% one-year increase for educators, the district has come back with an offer of a 5% increase.

The result of the negotiations thus far has caused the union to declare an impasse, a decision the district agrees with, saying it is not sure how it would pay for the union’s compensation proposal.  According to the district, there is a gap between the two sides amounting around $800 million, writes Caroline Porter for The Wall Street Journal.

“I’ve been disappointed and frustrated by the lack of progress toward an agreement,” said Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines. “It’s my hope that the appointment of a mediator will lead to an expeditious settlement that ultimately supports our students and the District at large.”

Teachers in the district have not received a pay raise in 8 years and had previously agreed to pay cuts during the days of the economic recession.  In addition, thousands of teachers were laid off due to budget cuts and reduced enrollment.  Teachers do receive increases in their pay based on education credits and experience.

In addition to pay, the union is asking for smaller class sizes and increased staff sizes, among other things.

“UTLA will not accept a piecemeal agreement that addresses only one or two issues, which fails to improve student learning conditions and educator working conditions,” the union said in a statement.

According to the district, fair counteroffers were made concerning teacher evaluations, class sizes and parent involvement, reports Howard Blume for The LA Times.

If approved by the public employment relations board, a mediator will take over a new negotiation session between the two parties.  If that fails as well, the next step will be to participate in a fact-finding process, and then, potentially, a strike.

“This is a district that is at the bottom of the state in providing counselors for kids, in a state that is 50th out of the 50 states in providing counselors,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl. “This is a district that has said that there are 3,000 classrooms with more than 45 students in them. Under those conditions, it’s unacceptable that LAUSD has not made legitimate counterproposals to us, and that’s why we declared [an] impasse.”

The union represents about 35,000 teachers in the district.