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Teachers Union Rejects 3-Year, 16.9% Pay Hike

Times Education Writer

The Los Angeles Unified School District has offered its 32,000 teachers a 16.9% salary raise over three years--which would raise top pay to more than $54,000--and a plan for increasing teachers’ authority in the schools, officials said Wednesday.

But United Teachers-Los Angeles, the union representing district teachers, flatly rejected the offer within hours after it was publicly announced, signaling that the nation’s second-largest school system and its teachers are far from settling contract talks that began eight months ago.

5.2% to 5.6% Increases

The district’s three-year contract proposal guarantees teachers general increases of 5.2% to 5.6% each year, with larger raises for teachers with more experience and education.

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Minimum pay would rise to $27,397 in 1991 from $23,440 this year, while maximum pay would increase to $54,437 from $43,319. The total cost of wages and benefits over the three years would be more than $300 million.

“We’re very proud of this offer,” said school board President Roberta Weintraub. “This is the first time the district has guaranteed salary increases for the next three years no matter what happens.”

Union President Wayne Johnson, however, called the salary offer “nothing for teachers to get excited about. . . . We feel the district has enough for (a) 12% (raise) this year.”

A 12% raise would take beginning pay to $26,253 and top pay to $48,517 in 1988-89. The district’s first-year offer would put beginning pay at $24,755 and top pay at $46,879. The union has 22,000 members but negotiates on behalf of all district teachers, as well as for nurses, counselors and psychologists.

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The district says that Los Angeles, starting next year, would rank No. 1 in minimum and maximum teacher pay among the 10 largest school systems in the country if its salary offer is accepted. After Los Angeles would come Dade County in Florida with a minimum of $23,000 and a maximum of $43,000. Close behind would be Philadelphia, Detroit and New York.

However, some smaller districts have surpassed Los Angeles in their current contracts. Under a contract signed last year, for instance, Rochester, N.Y., will begin offering a maximum of $70,000 in 1989 to “lead teachers,” who will work an extra month and have broad powers to run schools.

But Johnson disputed the district’s salary comparisons. He said district salaries ranked 11th out of 43 Los Angeles County school districts in maximum pay in 1987-88--behind Beverly Hills, Pomona, Pasadena, Montebello, Alhambra City, Long Beach, Paramount, Baldwin Park, Inglewood and Walnut Valley.

Minimum salary applies to entry-level teachers with a bachelor’s degree. The maximum salary for the Los Angeles Unified School District applies to teachers with doctorates and with 20 years experience.

Salary comparisons among cities can be difficult because of variations in pay levels based on advanced degrees and years of experience.

The American Federation of Teachers, in a survey of the 100 largest cities for 1986-87, said the Los Angeles district ranked 36th in annual pay for teachers with a master’s degree.

The district also proposed a pilot program to give teachers wider authority. It would create a school leadership council consisting of teachers, parents, clerical workers and students to act as an “equal partner” with the principal in decisions affecting six areas: educational goals, budget, student discipline, teacher development workshops, use of school equipment and school schedules. According to district officials, a principal could not act in those areas without a consensus from the council.

However, Johnson was highly critical of the proposal.

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“Their proposal says this committee and the principal will meet and if they can’t agree, nothing will be changed. That says the principal has veto power, pure and simple.”

The union’s plan for increasing teachers’ authority calls for a schoolwide academic committee consisting chiefly of teachers but also including the principal and a second administrator.


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