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Two more unions settle with L.A. Unified, which remains in standoff with teachers

Two more unions settle with L.A. Unified, which remains in standoff with teachers
Teachers at a May rally for a new contract in downtown Los Angeles. Their union, United Teachers Los Angeles, is holding out for a better deal. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Two more labor groups have agreed to a new contract with the Los Angeles Unified School District, but negotiations with the teachers union remain at a tense standstill.

The latest to settle is Chapter 500 of the California School Employees Assn., which represents about 3,800 technicians, library aides, financial managers and other office workers.

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The three-year agreement, announced Monday, is retroactive to July 1, 2017, and provides for raises of 2% per year.

Unions representing about 60% of employees have tentative or approved contracts, with United Teachers Los Angeles being a notable exception.

Earlier this month, the district reached a pact with Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, which represents about 2,500 principals, assistant principals and other managers. Although structured differently, that deal also has raises totaling about 6% over three years. The same is true of a May deal with Local 99, which represents nearly 30,000 bus drivers, cafeteria workers, teaching assistants and aides for students with disabilities.

Leaders of the nation’s second-largest school system have hinted that teachers should anticipate something similar, although the current offer is not as generous. District negotiators said they want the teachers to come down on salary demands before making a better counteroffer.

The union’s proposal includes a 6.5% raise, retroactive to July 1, 2016, and reduced class sizes. The union also calls for “ending overtesting” of students and “placing reasonable accountability measures” on independently operated charter schools, most of which are nonunion.

Charters, which have grown rapidly, compete with the district for students and the funding that follows them to the schools where they enroll.

The district’s negotiator, Najeeb Khoury, said the union’s proposal would increase an annual spending deficit from about $500 million to about $1.3 billion, rapidly consuming reserves.

“Simple math shows that those reserves would be exhausted this school year should L.A. Unified accept your ‘Final Offer,’ ” Khoury wrote in a July 26 letter to the union. “The district, in other words, would immediately become bankrupt.”

Union leaders said the district refuses to take necessary steps to invest in student success and lead the fight to raise education funding to necessary levels.

“District officials claim we are being outrageous and uncooperative because we won’t join them in their cynical view of our future,” said Arlene Inouye, chairwoman of the union’s bargaining team.

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