Teachers union President Warren Fletcher

L.A. teachers union President Warren Fletcher on Thursday announced his union's demand for a 17.6% salary increase as well as a restoration of lost jobs. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / February 9, 2012)

The union that represents Los Angeles teachers is seeking a 17.6% salary increase, officials announced.

United Teachers Los Angeles also is calling for a restoration of school staffing to levels in place prior to the state’s recent economic recession. In addition, the union wants new rules that will protect the rights and jobs of teachers at persistently low-performing schools.

“We’ve waited 2,531 days since our last salary increase,” said union President Warren Fletcher. “We do not have a desire to wait hundreds more or, God forbid, thousands more. The dollars are here.”

Fletcher was referring to increased revenue from the state’s improving economy, dollars from a voter-approved state tax increase and a new funding formula that provides more money to districts, such as L.A. Unifed, that serve students who are more challenging to educate.

In addition to lacking raises, teachers, over four years of the recession agreed to 16 furlough days, with each day equaling about half a percent of pay, Fletcher said.

The contract demands were approved Wednesday by the union’s governing body, called the House of Representatives. The original motion called for seeking a 17.6% increase over four years, but after a discussion, the time frame was removed. Fletcher said the goal would be to “frontload” as much of any raise as possible.

On Monday, L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy, speaking to civic leaders and activists downtown, said there is no doubt that employees need and deserve a raise.

But the details are likely to be disputed. In the past, Deasy has spoken of linking a substantial part of salary increases to incentives, such as teaching in hard-to-staff schools or achieving higher test scores. The union has resisted such moves. Both sides have framed their positions in terms of what will most benefit students.

This year’s improved budget includes some one-time funds that school districts will resist making part of permanent salary increases. And the new money set aside to help “high need” students must be used in a way that directly benefits these students under new state rules approved Thursday in Sacramento.

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