LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Unionized Los Angeles Unified School district teachers picketed before classes Thursday to continue their push for higher salaries and smaller class sizes, but the district contends the union's salary demand could lead to layoffs and service cuts.
Contract negotiations between the district and United Teachers Los Angeles resumed Thursday, but while some progress has been made in talks, the issue of salaries has remained a sticking point.
"The money is there. The district can take care of this," UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said during a rally in front of Carver Middle School.
The union is pushing for an 8 percent pay raise for teachers, noting that teachers have not received a salary boost for years.
Caputo-Pearl said that without such an increase, teachers will not want to join or remain with the LAUSD.
"We are not going to be able to recruit and retain educators for our kids, especially in the hardest-to-staff schools if we don't correct that," he said.
The district's most recent offer to the union was for a 5 percent pay raise, retroactive to July 1, 2014. Superintendent Ramon Cortines said the offer is comparable to what other districts are offering. He also said starting salaries for teachers would jump to $50,000 a year, while another $13 million would be dedicated to reducing class sizes, doubling the district's budget for the effort.
District officials said Thursday that their offer was officially rejected at the negotiations table and that their next bargaining session was scheduled for Feb. 18.
Caputo-Pearl said he believes the threat of layoffs is a scare tactic by the district, saying the LAUSD will benefit from rising state revenues.
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