California Educator

February / March 2019

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Page 43 of 71

Bargaining Roundup Details of these stories at By Cynthia Menzel, Julian Peeples, Ed Sibby and Frank Wells. #OurVoiceAtTheTable Los Angeles: Strike makes major gains On Jan. 22, United Teachers Los Angeles announced a tentative agreement ending a six-day strike that had riveted the nation and drawn new attention to key issues facing students and educators in Los Angeles and elsewhere. The settlement gave UTLA members nearly everything they had been striking for, and made progress in other areas, laying a strong foundation for the future. UTLA leadership had made it clear from the beginning that this was not a strike over salary, but instead over things that matter to students and to the future of public education. Although the 6 percent raise ultimately agreed to was roughly what Los Angeles Unified School District had offered before the strike, UTLA was able to force the district to drop tying that increase to additional working hours. UTLA also ensured retroactivity for the increase and pushed back against attempts to start a two-tiered health coverage system impacting new hires. The real gains came in student-centered areas. Class sizes were reduced potentially across the board by eliminating a clause that had allowed the district to increase class sizes at every level by declaring financial hardship. That move will finally force adherence to hard caps. The settlement also puts an immediate cap of 39 on high school English and math classes, with additional reductions to high school and middle school classes to begin next year. Schools starved for years of support services will now have a nurse every day (LAUSD will hire 300 nurses over the next two years), high schools will have a library technician every day, high school counselors will see their student caseload cut in half, and newly funded community schools with wrap-around services will have psychologists and social workers available along with other programs. The district will take a hard look at all district assess- ments and is tasked with reducing testing by 50 percent. LAUSD had previously rejected any discussion of testing as outside the scope of bargaining. The agreement also calls for more educator input into school magnet conver- sion and charter school co-location, as well as a Board of Education vote on a resolution capping the number of charter schools. Other issues agreed to include a hotline and full-time attorney to help immigrant students and their fami- lies, and more schools exempt from so-called random searches that target students of color. UTLA members overwhelmingly ratified the agree- ment in a preliminary vote the day of the settlement and returned to classrooms the next day. 42 Advocacy

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