Los Angeles teachers union demands 20% pay rise over two years – Daily News

Amid a nationwide teacher shortage, the union representing Los Angeles Unified Teachers is seeking a 20% two-year pay rise as part of its proposed new contract with the second-largest district. school in the country.

The proposed 10% salary increase for each of the next two years would help attract and retain educators at a time when LAUSD, like many districts, is grappling with a shortage of workers and teachers are desperately needed to help. students to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, union officials said.

In addition to the raises, which United Teachers Los Angeles officials say would allow employees to afford to live in the communities where they work, the union wants the following:

  • Reduced class sizes at all levels and types of schools. Class sizes would be reduced by two students in the 2023-2024 school year and another two students the following year.
  • Improved special education services, including capping class sizes and caseloads.
  • More counselors, student services and attendance counselors (PSAs), psychiatric social workers (PSWs), and psychologists, plus retention allowances of $5,000, paid over three years, to PSAs, PSWs, and educational advisers in schools as part of the Black Student Achievement Plan initiative.
  • One full-time librarian for each primary school with 250 or more students and one part-time librarian for smaller schools.
  • At least one college counselor for each high school with at least 350 students.
  • Investments in arts and physical education and programs that serve the whole child.
  • Substantial salary increases for nurses.
  • Allow school site councils to have more say in their school’s budget, professional development, and other local site decisions.
  • Develop community schools and the Black Student Achievement Plan initiative.
  • Address food and housing insecurity and environmental issues affecting students.
  • End standardized testing that is not mandated by the state or federal government.

UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz called the proposal the union’s “most ambitious bargaining platform”, three years after members went on strike for six school days.

The pandemic has laid bare the inequities faced by many schools and communities served by LAUSD, she said during a press conference with reporters Friday, May 13.

“Now is the time to really invest in our schools, to invest in our educators, and to invest in our students in a much (more) creative and imaginative way than we could even imagine,” he said. she declared.

In an email to UTLA members this week, Myart-Cruz said the district has $3 billion in reserves that she says should be invested in students and employees.

UTLA executive director Jeff Good, who co-chairs the union’s bargaining committee, said the district has a tendency to under-project revenue and over-project expenses when budgeting, and that historically, the district maintained unlimited reserves at 25 to 30 times the legal value. requirement.

When asked how the district would pay for the wage increases proposed by the union, Good said there was reason to believe the district could see an increase in continued state funding.

“We know the socio-emotional needs of students require smaller class sizes, require more social workers, require more psychologists, require more counselors,” Good said. “And the only way to get people into these positions is to pay our educators more. They must also improve the working conditions of these educators.

Last year, the school board approved the hiring of several thousand new employees as part of a recovery plan aimed at helping students catch up and meet their socio-emotional needs following the pandemic. . But nationwide staffing shortages have thwarted the district’s plan to hire more reading and math specialists, counselors, psychiatric social workers and others.

By the end of March, about three-quarters of this school year, more than 1,400 so-called “Path to Recovery” positions had gone unfilled.

Union officials said the district agreed during contract negotiations three years ago to hire enough nurses to provide one on each campus. While acknowledging the district for trying to honor the deal, UTLA secretary and bargaining co-chair Arlene Inouye said that with school nurses being paid about half of what they could win in the private sector, it was difficult to attract or retain qualified people.

“We chose this profession because we believe in quality public education for every child,” Inouye said. “We want to serve our communities. … But it cannot and must not be at the expense of our mental, physical and emotional well-being.

A district spokesperson did not respond to a question about the amount of LA Unified’s reserves, but in a statement noted that the parties met Thursday to begin negotiations on a new contract.

“We look forward to continued engagement in the negotiation process to reach reasonable agreements that improve outcomes and opportunities for all students,” the LAUSD statement read.

UTLA’s current contract will expire on June 30.

The union represents approximately 35,000 teachers, counsellors, librarians, nurses and other graduate employees.

William M. Mayer