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No Raise for LAUSD Teachers; Pension Costs Increase, SEIU Gets Raise

LAUSD Teachers Rally
LAUSD Teachers Rally
Audrey Linden

No Raise for LAUSD Teachers, SEIU Raise, Pension Fund Costs Increase

At the Schools with Audrey Linden

The LAUSD Board of Education approved of a budget which demonstrates the influx of money from various funding and from the passage of Proposition 30. This is the first time in years that the District is flush with money. Some of that money will go to hiring of some 1,200 new teachers, more counselors, other staff and money for students who are in need, go for tutoring and parent education. A 6.6 billion dollar budget was approved. But, no money was on the table for a raise for teachers. Teachers have gone without a raise for eight years and also have not gotten a COLA in eight years.

UTLA found the new budget inadequate in addressing reduced class size, hiring counselors, nurses, librarians, funding Adult Ed. Superintendent Deasy proposed a $21 million increase for counselors, nurses, custodians, and other support staff. $54 million U.S. funding would go towards reducing suspensions and increasing attendance. $10 million is earmarked for foster youth, $21 million for instructional coaches for English Learners, teacher training and support.

But what of the teachers whose mortgages, bills and expenditures have gone up? Nothing on the table? Superintendent Deasy had offered a 2 percent one time pay-out for 2013 to 2014 at the beginning of June. That proposal also had included another 2 percent pay-out for 2014-2015 school year. The offer was in answer to the 17.6 percent demand of January 29th, 2014. And, there was a stipulation that if the offer was not accepted in a reasonable time, it was off the table. Superintendent John Deasy had over four months to review the demand and did not answer in a timely manner, but UTLA was to comply or the offer would be rescinded. The offer was in fact, declined by then President, Warren Fletcher.

There had been negotiations but nothing further was offered, and that the Board of Education for LAUSD would pass a budget that overlooks any raise at all for teachers in unconscionable. One can only hope when the new UTLA leadership begins negotiations with Alex Caputo-Pearl as President of UTLA with the Union Power officers behind him, a better offer will be on the table, an offer that respects teachers.

The SEIU recently got a raise for non-teaching staff which would bring the minimum wage to $15. The SEIU had asked for a 15 percent raise. Some complained that they were led to believe they got a 6.5 raise. In fact, the raise reflects a 2 percent raise for this year, a 2 percent for next year, and a 2.5 the following year, for a total of 6.5 percent. At the end of the three years, the pay hike will be 19 percent more to Local 99 employees. Last week, the minimum rose to $11 an hour, $13 for next year and $15 for July 1, 2016.

If teachers get more of an increase there is a clause referred to as a “me too” clause in which Local 99 can benefit. That could be a deterrent to teachers who had asked for 17.6 percent. It could work against the teachers. Like the teachers, the Local 99 employees will be subjected to a higher set of standards for evaluations.

The deal to raise the wage to $15 may set the standard for the rest of the nation. LAUSD is the second largest school district in the nation and it had the lowest pay. The employees of Local 99 represent classroom aides, custodians, security aides, and cafeteria workers, some of whom earned only $8.00an hour last year. Many are parents of LAUSD school children and struggle to hold down two and three jobs just to make ends meet. Local 99 represents some 33,000 employees.

Next in line for negotiating is the raise for the teachers. Will the District offer what it offered the SEIU, a 2 percent increase for the last year, another 2 percent for this year and a 2.5 percent for the last year?

President Alex Caputo-Pearl has indicated that a strike would be in the works. And, that takes mobilization and the agreement of teachers by a vote of the body of House of Representatives and then by each teacher by ballot. It is time for teachers to draw a line in the sand like the teachers in Chicago did, and fight for the raise and conditions they deserve. And, recently Chicago laid off a large number of teachers. Time will tell what the District will offer LAUSD teachers and if a strike will be in the works.

Add to the dilemma is that teachers’ checks will reflect a cut in pay as they have to give more to their own pensions. There is a shortfall in the pension fund. Lawmakers had increased retirement benefits without increasing payments into the pension fund which was resulting in a deficit. The shortfall reflected $200 billion in long term costs. The fund would run out and the state would have to pay for pension checks out of its own budget.

Contributions for teachers hired before January 1, 2013 will increase from 8 percent to 10.25 percent over three years. Teachers hired after that date will have their contributions go to 9.21 percent. The state’s portion will see an increase from 3.29 percent to 6.33 percent in the next three years. School contributions will increase the most from 8.25 percent of the district payroll to 19.1 percent in seven years. Money going to students and educational programs will be going to pension funds.

Teachers are being asked to contribute more to their own retirement, with no raise is on the table.

Audrey Linden

Educational Reporter