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Tensions rise between UTLA and LAUSD

Sania Syed, News Editor

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Teachers across the entire district participated in a boycott of after school faculty meetings to put pressure on LAUSD on Tuesday, March 24. The boycott is organized by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), and is scheduled to take place on two additional Tuesdays, April 7, and April 14.
Uni teachers were unable to participate as faculty meetings were not scheduled for those dates.

“We have had our union meetings and we are wearing our boycott stickers to show that we support the efforts of the union and we support the campaign: Schools LA Students Deserve,” UTLA chapter chair and history teacher Daniel Beebe said.

Schools LA Students Deserve is a grassroots campaign hoping to achieve better learning environments, which includes lower class sizes, a more effective teacher evaluation system, fairer compensation for teachers and fully staffed schools. According to the Daily Breeze, conflicts are heating up as the Los Angeles Unified school board approved sending pink slips to 609 educators on March 10, as talk of a teachers strike and budget deficit continues to persist.

According to the United Teacher, the newspaper of UTLA, UTLA chose to boycott faculty meetings because they allow every member to participate and do not affect school learning. Teachers complain that they have went through four years with an expired contract, five years without a restoration of cuts that hurt students and eight years without a pay increase. The district offered a pay raise of 5 percent, however UTLA demands at least 8 percent.

“It is critical that we apply maximum pressure right now, during the mediation period, in our attempt to get an agreement,” UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl said in his President’s Perspective article.

In response, LAUSD Superintendent released a cease and desist letter to all teachers that planned on participating in the boycott. The letter states that in 1990, UTLA pledged and agreed not to engage in boycotts in the future. It also adds that staging a boycott is a violation of the 1990 Final Decision and Order of the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).

“Faculty meetings are important to provide opportunities for teachers and principals to engage in dialogue and planning concerning matters such as student progress and needs, school budgets, instruction, and school safety,” Cortines said, in his letter addressed to Caputo-Pearl.

The Union has used boycotting faculty meetings in the past, as a normal part of escalating actions that put pressure on LAUSD.

“Obviously administrators don’t like it but this is the first time, at least since I have been in the district, that I can recall a superintendent threatening faculty,” Beebe said.

The district and UTLA are currently in the Impasse stage of the negotiation process, where either side can declare that talks are deadlocked, which leads to mediation. If no agreement is reached, LAUSD can legally and unilaterally impose its last, best, and final proposals. UTLA can legally hold a job action, including a strike. These stages of collective bargaining are determined by the EERA (Educational Employment Relations Act).

The first mediation session will be held tomorrow, where a professional mediator will attempt to get both sides to reconcile their differences.

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The student news site of University High in Los Angeles, California
Tensions rise between UTLA and LAUSD