California Educator

December 2018 / January 2019

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Page 45 of 75

" The district thinks they can buy us off with a modest pay raise, but our fight has never been just about salary." — Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTLA President UTLA Moves Closer to Possible Strike I N O C T O B E R , negotiations between United Teachers Los Ange- les and the Los Angeles Unified School District were certified for fact-finding after three sessions with a state mediator failed to produce an agreement. UTLA has been at the bargaining table since April 2017; their collective bargaining agreement expired in June of that year. Current proposals focus on much more than just salary. Although a fair wage is important, UTLA is also fighting for smaller class sizes; giving teachers more discretion over stan- dardized testing; improving school safety through additional nurses, counselors, social workers and other staff; support for community schools with broader parent engagement and wrap-around services; and increased school funding that brings per-pupil investment to $20,000 annually. UTLA is also fighting the growing encroachment and drain caused by charter schools. There has been a 287 percent increase in the number of corporate, privatized charter schools, draining almost $600 million in district funding per year, and Superintendent Austin Beutner continues to cozy up to wealthy school privatizers and prominent charter promoters. LAUSD has rejected UTLA's proposals, although the district offered a pay increase (tied to additional hours of work) in the hope of settling the contract. Refusing to provide records demanded by the union, LAUSD has claimed potential financial collapse, despite maintaining a 26.5 percent financial reserve where only 1 percent is required by law. "The district thinks they can buy us off with a modest pay raise, but our fight has never been just about salary," UTLA Bargaining Roundup Details of these stories at Educators and students at Telfair Elementary in Pacoima. President Alex Caputo-Pearl says. "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 socio-emotional needs of our students. "The school district claims it can't afford these very basic student needs. We are ready to go to fact-finding and force the district to defend its position." Standing in solidarity, UTLA members are pre- paring for a possible strike as early as January if no agreement is reached after fact-finding. The union will hold a massive March for Public Education in downtown Los Angeles on December 15. For the latest, see #UTLAstrong 44 Advocacy

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