LAUSD, Teachers Union Clash Over Pact

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Amid somewhat rancorous contract talks, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the United Teachers Los Angeles don't agree on some facts surrounding the negotiations, a statement issued today by the district indicates.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner met last Wednesday with teachers union head Alex Caputo-Pearl, and then sent him a new contract offer in a follow-up letter, the Los Angeles Times reported last week.

Caputo-Pearl contends that a settlement was not close and that the UTLA has scheduled strike votes this week.

Today's statement from the LAUSD acknowledges the UTLA is accusing the district of trying to interfere with the union's strike vote and dodge attempts to quicken a meditation procedure.

LAUSD officials have accepted Sept. 27 as a date to meet with mediators and resume bargaining, saying they are awaiting word from mediators the date is confirmed.

The union, however, wants to immediately start working with a mediator instead of waiting until late September.

UTLA's “final offer” has asked for a reduction in class size and an increase in the number of school librarians, nurses and counselors, the district statement said.

L.A. Unified reportedly agreed to these demands, with the main sticking point being the requested raises the union is demanding.

Beutner has said that other district unions have settled for raises of about 6 percent over three years and the same deal was available for the teachers.

The UTLA seeks raises of 6.5 percent, retroactive to July 1, 2016, the Times said.

The school district counters by noting it faces a $504 million deficit for this upcoming school year and the raises demanded by the union would increase the deficit by $813 million a year, creating a $1.32 billion annual deficit.

The district challenges union claims that LAUSD has $1.7 billion in unrestricted 2018-19 reserves that can go toward the teacher's union contract, saying the sum actually is $1.2 billion.

“The $1.7 billion figure is incorrect, and to know this and continually cite the figure is intentionally misleading,” the district statement said.

Reacting to the budget approved by the Board of Education on June 19, the school district will use the $1.2 billion to cover its current debt, meaning the district will get about $700 million in savings during the 2019- 2020 school year.

While both sides continue to prepare to meet with mediators, a strike vote by the teachers would allow union leaders to call for a strike without going back to their membership for approval.

Photo: Getty Images

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