Hardball pays off with 2-year, 10% hike for L.A. teachers

lausdHardball paid off for the United Teachers Los Angeles late Friday when negotiators reached tentative agreement on a three-year deal that provides L.A. Unified teachers with a 10 percent pay raise in the first two years. That’s far more than other LAUSD unions got in collective bargaining.

The deal was sold as a win-win proposition by both LAUSD and UTLA leaders. But for nearly a year, LAUSD number-crunchers had fought for a much smaller raise in briefing L.A. school board members, citing the need to prepare for the pain of the phased-in 130 percent increase in district contributions to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System required by the 2014 CalSTRS bailout legislation.

The CalSTRS fix will cost LAUSD an extra $1 billion a year in fiscal 2020-21 when the phase-in is complete. That’s a giant burden for a district that this fiscal year has a $6.6 billion budget.

Nevertheless, school board members were ready for labor peace after the UTLA took serious steps toward a districtwide strike. They not only agreed to a 10 percent raise over two years, they dropped their hard line on making teachers pay more toward their health benefits.

Union ID’d funds for raises that were supposedly encumbered

The question of whether LAUSD had the legal authority to grant the raises never was seriously addressed. Early in negotiations, the UTLA sought a 17.6 percent immediate raise and cited the influx of funds the district had available because of the Local Control Funding Formula reform adopted by the Legislature in 2013.

That reform was supposed to earmark additional school funds for districts to specifically help troubled English-language learners and other struggling students. When the reform was adopted, Gov. Jerry Brown depicted it as a “revolutionary” step toward helping ensure California had a skilled workforce in coming generations. His aides downplayed the idea that the reform could be gamed at the local level by powerful local union chapters.

However, the Brown administration had no reaction to a Legislative Analyst’s Office report in January that none of 50 California school districts it surveyed, including the 11 largest, had adequate safeguards to make sure the funds were not diverted.

Another aspect of the labor talks also received little attention from the mainstream media. That was UTLA’s claim that members had not received a raise in eight years. In fact, in most California school districts, teachers receive automatic pay raises of 3.5 to 4 percent for 15 of their first 20 years on the job — “step” increases. They can also improve their pay classification by taking graduate coursework in any field — “column” increases.

In large school districts, this usually means at least 60 percent of teachers get pay-scale raises every year. The percentage is higher in districts with more turnover.

6 comments

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  1. Queeg
    Queeg 20 April, 2015, 08:59

    Combat pay?

    Reply this comment
  2. bob
    bob 20 April, 2015, 18:36

    Will they teach 10% better?

    Reply this comment
  3. JimmyDeeOC
    JimmyDeeOC 21 April, 2015, 10:22

    I know a dodo who teaches in LAUSD……….in the Valley………4th and 5th graders I seem to recall.

    A few years ago she completed her “graduate” degree in education. Activate column increase.

    Do you think she is any better a teacher? Do you think that anything learned through her Master’s is applicable to 4th and 5th graders? And even if she wanted to implement any of the theory – that you could actually implement it in the Leviathan bureaucracy that is LAUSD?

    Reply this comment
  4. Ted Steele PhD
    Ted Steele PhD 22 April, 2015, 16:28

    God bless our teachers!! They teach our future leaders and professionals!!

    Reply this comment
    • JimmyDeeOC
      JimmyDeeOC 23 April, 2015, 00:03

      That sentiment may have held water back when they were called School Marms and every one sported an apple on the desk.

      Now your average teacher looks like Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons. Half of them spend their days in the Rubber Room while the other half applies icing to cookies.

      Reply this comment
  5. Teecher
    Teecher 22 April, 2015, 19:01

    Peoples, peoples, peoples…calm down…sure they got a big raise but remember, IT’S NOT FOR THE TEECHERS…IT’S FER DA CHILDERN!

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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