Amid a nationwide school staffing shortage, the union representing Los Angeles Unified teachers is demanding a 20% pay increase over two years as part of a proposal for a new contract with the nation’s second-largest school district.
The proposed 10% pay hike each over the next two years will help attract and retain teachers at a time when LAUSD, like many districts, is struggling with a worker shortage and helping students recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers are desperately needed to help. Union officials said.
United Teachers Los Angeles officials said that in addition to the pay increases, employees would be allowed to live in the communities where they work, the union wants to:
- Reduced class sizes across all grade levels and school types. Class sizes will be reduced by two students in the 2023-24 school year, and by another two students the following year.
- Improved special education services, including limiting class sizes and caseloads.
- More counselors, student services and attendance (PSA) counselors, psychological social workers (PSWs) and psychologists, plus a $5,000 retention stipend, paid over three years, to PSAs, PSWs and academic counselors in schools under 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.
- Investment in arts and physical education and programs that serve the whole child.
- Substantial wage increase for nurses.
- Allow school site councils to speak more on their school budget, professional development and other local site decisions.
- Expand community schools and Black Student Achievement Plan initiatives.
- Addressing food and housing insecurity and environmental issues affecting students.
- Eliminate standardized tests not mandated by the state or federal government.
UTLA President Cecily Myert-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 exposed the inequalities faced by many schools and communities, he said during a press call with reporters on Friday, May 13.
“Now is the time to really invest in our schools, invest in our teachers, and invest in our students in a way that is more creative and imaginative than we can imagine,” she said.
In an email to UTLA members this week, Myrt-Cruz said the district has $3 billion in reserves, which he said should be invested in students and staff.
UTLA executive director Jeff Good, who co-chairs the union’s bargaining committee, said the district tends to over-project its revenues and over-project its expenditures when budgeting, and historically the district has projected 25 to 30 percent of its revenue. Guna has legally maintained unrestricted reserves. Demand.
When asked how the district would pay for the wage hike the union has proposed, Good said there is reason to believe that the district could see an increase in ongoing state funding.
“We know that students’ socio-emotional needs demand lower class sizes, demand more social workers, demand more psychologists, demand more counselors,” Good said. “And the only way to get people into those positions is to pay our teachers more. They also need to improve the working conditions of those teachers.”
Last year, the school board approved the hiring of several thousand new staff as part of a recovery plan to help students hold onto and meet their socio-emotional needs after the pandemic. But staff shortages across the country have thwarted the district’s plan to hire more reading and math specialists, counselors, psychosocial workers and others.
By the end of March, about three-quarters of the way through this school year, more than 1,400 so-called Path to Recovery positions had not been filled.
Union officials said the district had agreed to hire enough nurses to provide one nurse on each campus during contract negotiations three years ago. Giving the district credit for trying to honor the agreement, UTLA secretary and bargaining co-chair Arlene Inouye said school nurses are being paid almost half what they can in the private sector, attracting qualified people. Difficult to do or maintain.
“We have chosen this profession because we believe in a quality, public education for every single child,” Inouye said. “We want to serve our communities. … But that can’t happen and it shouldn’t be at the cost of our mental, physical and emotional health.”
A spokesman for the district did not respond to questions about how much money LA Unified has, but said in a statement that the parties met Thursday to begin talks on a new contract.
“We look forward to continued engagement in the negotiation process to reach appropriate agreements that improve outcomes and opportunities for all students,” the LAUSD statement said.
UTLA’s current contract expires on June 30.
The union represents approximately 35,000 teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses and other certified staff.