Home>Articles>LA Schools, Teachers Union Agree to 21% Pay Raise In Three-Year Contract

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LA Schools, Teachers Union Agree to 21% Pay Raise In Three-Year Contract

‘The UTLA in its present form reminds me of what the Teamsters were like under Jimmy Hoffa’

By Evan Symon, April 18, 2023 1:00 pm

A new agreement by the Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) teachers union was reached Tuesday, resulting in a 21% raise for teachers over the next three years, as well as ending the possibility of another district-wide strike similar to the strike last month.

In the past 40 years, the LA teachers union has been on strike only twice. In 1989, a nine-day strike resulted in a 24% raise for teachers, while a 2019 strike lasted 8 days and brought a 6% raise plus several other demands such as class size reduction and a community school program. With the latest contract with the UTLA ending, many feared that a major teacher’s strike would occur sometime this year.

However, before a teacher’s strike could happen, a school workers strike, consisting of non-teachers, struck first. Last month, workers represented by the SEIU declared a three-day strike, shutting down the school system. While the strike didn’t immediately end with a deal, and another three-day strike was soon in the works, it was eventually settled a few days later, with the SEIU only getting part of what they had demanded from the school district.

With the LAUSD not wanting a second work stoppage cancelling classes, and the UTLA, which picketed with the SEIU last month not wanting to test the district’s limits, both sides agreed to a new contract on Tuesday.

According to the new contract, teachers are to get a 21% pay increase over the next three years.

A major sticking point in recent years has been the difficulty attracting more nurses, psychologists, special education teachers, and other periphery teachers over higher pay at private schools and other school districts. Thus, additional pay bumps will be added to these jobs to aid recruitment: An additional $20,000 a year has been allotted for nurses, with school psychologists, social workers, counselors, and other similar positions seeing an additional $3,000 bump. Special Ed. teachers will see an additional $2,500 per year, with early education teachers seeing a $1,500 raise as well.

In addition to the raises, class size reductions will continue, albeit reducing only 2 students per classroom over the next three years instead of the 2019 rate of 4 students per classroom over that three-year period.

Both the district and the union spoke positively about the agreement Tuesday, noting that they were glad that a strike was averted.

“This agreement with UTLA is a necessary step not only to make Los Angeles Unified the district of choice for families but also the district of choice for teachers and employees,” said LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. “I am grateful that we reached an agreement with UTLA in a manner that reflects the dedicated work of our employees, provides a better academic experience for our students and raises the standards of compensation in Los Angeles and across the country.”

A new agreement

In a press release, the UTLA took a more combative stand, saying that “While Carvalho and the district spent the past year ignoring and undermining educators, students, and parents, we were fighting for a fair contract that meets the urgent needs of today and builds a strong foundation for public schools. We picketed, rallied, and walked the line in a historic solidarity strike to demand respect for all education workers. Every win in this tentative agreement below is a direct result of our collective power in the streets.”

While teachers and others under the UTLA were pleased with the agreement, many educational observers noted that the new contract was only the latest example of the union being too overtly powerful.

“The UTLA in its present form reminds me of what the Teamsters were like under Jimmy Hoffa or what the AFL-CIO was like in the few decades after their merger,” labor union historian and researcher Gary Wells told the Globe Tuesday. “I mean, the UTLA, CTA (California Teacher’s Association), NEA (National Education Association) – they are really the last bastion of powerful unions in the US. The SEIU is too, and look at what they did last month. Others, like the UAW or anything AFL-CIO related, they have lost so much power and have had to branch out to completely unrelated fields to stay alive.”

“But the teachers unions, they’re the last ones that can get nasty, hold strikes at any time, and get away with a lot. They have a resource, children needing education, that doesn’t dry up and is extremely precious. Charter schools, a push towards private, and school bond measures failing have been hurting them, especially in California. Many have been opting out of the unions here, and entire school districts, like Clovis, completely ignore teachers unions. So there is some opposition in California, and as much as they don’t want to admit it, it is growing here too.”

“But right now, they’re still incredibly powerful, and we saw that in the agreement today. Yeah, both sides said they were ok with it, but the union kept attacking the district on things even after it was signed. I mean, this is just further proof that they’re a bit out of control. There wasn’t even much pushback from the district. They just didn’t want another strike this year. They didn’t want to see the kids hurt.”

The next contract between LA schools and teachers is due to be up in 2026.

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8 thoughts on “LA Schools, Teachers Union Agree to 21% Pay Raise In Three-Year Contract

  1. You reference the 1989 strike. By 1993 LAUSD teachers agreed to take a 10% pay-cut because the district was in dyer straights financially. I just can’t see how they won’t avoid this again. I predict they will be giving a percentage back in 2 or 3 years.

  2. If teacher pay were in some way related to performance results, it might be justified. But after only two years on the job, CA public school teachers get DE FACTO lifetime tenure — with no performance standards.

    Moreover, this higher pay will result in much higher pensions — pensions that ALREADY are grossly underfunded.

    Pass the popcorn. It’s gonna get interesting.

  3. Does everybody realize that it’s 21% over 3 years, which is 7% per year? And does everybody know that teachers have not received COLA (cost of living adjustments) for many many years when we have seen inflation at 5% for 2 years in a row and 1 or 2% in years prior? This all in a profession that is not highly compensated in the first place ? Think about it.

  4. What teachers have to deal with on a daily basis is outrageous. We have porta potties under our desks and have been told to rush gunmen and distract them by the new ALICE training… violent kids are let on campuses after they’ve been expelled from other campuses. That’s how the 2 admins were shot in Denver. The educational system is broken because it caters to the smallest group (violent and out-of-control kids) and disregards what’s best for the whole. In what other profession would anyone allow an employee to be hired on condition they are pat down every day to make sure they weren’t carrying a weapon before they started their shift? Nowhere. Yet, in the same breath these administrators say they have our kids’ safety at heart, but then implement policies that put all of us in danger.

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