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HomeUS NewsL.A. teachers overwhelmingly approves contract that raises salaries 21%

L.A. teachers overwhelmingly approves contract that raises salaries 21%

Members of United Teachers Los Angeles overwhelmingly approved a new contract with L.A. Unified that will raise the average teacher salary to $106,000, a 21% wage increase over three years.

More than 94% of the 27,000 members who voted gave a thumbs up to the contract, which raises salaries, reduces class sizes, adds school staff — including attendance counselors, psychiatric social workers, and school psychologists — and limits class sizes for special education. UTLA represents some 35,000 teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians.

The agreement also tasks LAUSD officials to provide continued support for the Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP), an effort that will be overseen by a steering committee with appointees from the union and the district. The contract also contains provisions that codify immigrant support and efforts to provide housing both for union members and low-income families of students.

In addition, the deal contains language in support of creating more green spaces, including outdoor education areas and programs.

Added pay boosts will be available to employees in hard-to-staff jobs, such as school nurses.

The agreement will bring a sense of labor stability to the nation’s second-largest school district, which is focused on helping students recover from academic setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week the World Health Organization declared the end of the pandemic, which upended education through school closures.

In March, teachers joined the district’s other mega-union, representing support staff, for a three-day strike. Another teachers strike was not out of the question — either for this school year or in the fall — if an agreement had not been reached.

Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said in a news release that the agreement “acknowledges the impact of the pandemic, years of disinvestment and economic hardship, while standing firm on things school faculty need to provide quality education to our students.”

“This contract will set the national standard for all other educators to achieve livable wages and solidify an equitable future where students are supported in a healthy learning environment,” she said.

The union leader credited “efforts to mobilize members, parents and community supporters” as “vital to our success.” Such efforts included mass rallies, faculty-meeting boycotts and the three-day strike.

Though hailing the agreement, district officials have characterized the strike as unnecessary and illegal — and have filed a charge with the state labor board over it, seeking sanctions against the union.

The union also has pending labor-board allegations, including one over the recently adopted academic calendar.

Critics question whether the district can afford the contract, which comes after a deal with large wage and benefit gains for Local 99 of Service Employees International Union, which represents most non-teaching employees.

Although the agreement is for three years, the first year is retroactive, going back to July 1, 2022. As a result, the contract will cover only the next two school years.

This story originally appeared on LA Times

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