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Teachers union is warned against pay protests

Times Staff Writer

The top attorney for the Los Angeles Unified School District has put the president of the teachers union on notice, warning Wednesday that the union’s protests against the district’s faulty payroll system could violate labor agreements.

The message, in a letter from district Counsel Kevin Reed to union President A.J. Duffy, is the latest jab in the escalating, but still largely rhetorical, battle over the district’s lumbering efforts to correct the pay problems.

It is the second such letter Reed has sent Duffy in recent weeks challenging the United Teachers Los Angeles’ call late last month for its members to boycott after-school faculty meetings. Such boycotts, Reed said, are prohibited by the teachers’ contract with the district, which states that union leaders cannot “cause, encourage, condone or participate in any strike, slowdown or other work stoppage.” In a previous case between L.A. Unified and the union, a state labor agency ruled that school faculty meetings fall under this clause, Reed said.

Reed said it would be up to the school board whether to take action against the union. One possibility would be for the board to file a complaint with the state employee labor agency.

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Reed, in the letter, also demanded that Duffy stop threatening large-scale teacher “walk-outs” during the school day. While testifying at a public hearing last week organized by state Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), Duffy angrily denounced the district’s response to the payroll problems and promised to cripple the district with walkouts if fixes were not made. But, in an interview afterward, the union president said there were no immediate plans for teachers to leave their classrooms.

“Superintendent Reed needs to calm down,” Duffy said, when told about the lawyer’s latest missive, mockingly referring to Reed as the district’s top official.

“I would point out to Mr. Reed that it is also illegal not to pay employees accurately and on time. When they start paying teachers accurately and on time, then the job actions will stop.” He declined to comment on whether the boycotts were a contract violation.

joel.rubin@latimes.com

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