District Accused of Hiring Teachers in Case of Strike
Members of the Los Angeles teachers union accused the district Friday of recruiting college graduates to replace instructors who may strike May 30.
But officials of the Los Angeles Unified School District denied the recruiting has to do with fears of a strike, insisting that it is part of the annual effort to fill the estimated 2,000 to 3,000 vacancies each fall.
“Our teacher recruitment effort is not part of any plan to hire teachers in the event of a strike, district spokeswoman Diana Munatones said. “We’ve been doing this since 1984.”
United Teachers-Los Angeles, which represents about 22,000 of the district’s 32,000 teachers, scheduled demonstrations today at three district recruiting sites.
The union will announce results Monday of a strike vote taken this week. Teachers earlier voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, but union leaders wanted a second vote to set a May 30 date for the walkout.
UTLA President Wayne Johnson said the district has stepped up its recruiting efforts with newspaper advertisements. In previous years, the district usually limited recruiting to notices distributed by campus education departments.
“We are certain that the district is trying to recruit students, give them emergency credentials and put them in schools in the event of a strike,” Johnson said. “It’s like the old joke, ‘Yesterday I couldn’t spell teacher; today I are one.’ ”
Johnson said teachers will pass out literature at recruiting sites warning potential recruits to wait until a new contract is signed before seeking a job with the district. The UTLA is seeking a 21% raise over two years, while the district has offered a pay increase of 20% over three years in the contract dispute that has lingered for more than a year. The union also wants expanded authority for teachers in school decision making.
Union Sends Letter
In a letter sent last week to the departments of education at 12 local colleges and universities, UTLA officials warned seniors that if they teach during a strike, “they will be identified and tracked” after the strike ends. “These new teachers will have, to put it politely, extremely strained relations with union teachers at their school.”
The UTLA official who signed the letter said recruits who work during the strike will face retaliatory “aggravation” by veteran teachers when the strike is over.
“I’m not saying that they will get beat up, but normally teachers go out of their way to help new teachers,” said Sam Kresner, the UTLA’s director of organizational services. “The warning to new teachers is that they will do as little as possible to help you.”
Some college officials said they were angered by the UTLA letter. Mimi Warshaw, head of teacher education at Cal State Dominguez Hills, said she did not post the letter because she believes its only purpose “is to frighten people into not interviewing with the Los Angeles district.”
In a letter that will be sent to the heads of the college education departments next week, Associate Supt. Irene Yamahara, who oversees hiring for the district, says: “Let me unequivocally assure you that the offers of employment currently being given to prospective teachers are for vacancies in the 1989-90 school year and are not to replace potential striking teachers. . . . I am dismayed, as is the district, that your students would be subjected to veiled threats or intimidation implied in the letter.”
“The purpose of the drive is to recruit for vacancies in the fall,” said Michael Acosta, who coordinates teacher recruitment for the district. He said 2,000 teachers will be needed because of a growing student population and to replace teachers who retire or take other jobs.
Times education writer Elaine Woo contributed to this article.