Education

L.A. Teachers to Strike After Rejecting Offered Pay Raise

They were offered 3 percent, but wanted 6.5. The district probably can't afford that.

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Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/Newscom

After a temporary delay, teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District seem likely to go on strike Monday morning. They are demanding, among other things, a 6.5 percent pay increase after rejecting a 3 percent hike offered by the district.

About 30,000 teachers in the nation's largest school district had originally planned to strike on January 10, but union leaders postponed the strike until Monday after a judge ruled that the union had failed to give the district adequate notice for the work stoppage. Even with a few extra days to reach an agreement, the two sides remain apart, according to the Los Angeles Times, despite the district offering to pay an additional $75 million to meet union demands regarding staffing levels and class sizes.

The main disagreement, of course, is about wages. The union wants a 6.5 percent raise immediately, while the district has offered a 3 percent raise followed by another 3 percent raise next year, the Times reports. (Update: The average LAUSD employee earns $73,000 annually.)

Even without handing out pay raises, the Los Angeles Unified School District finds itself in dire financial straits.

On its current trajectory, the school district will face a $422 million shortfall by 2020, driven in large part by its $15 billion in unfunded health care benefit liabilities for current workers and retirees. A task force that studied the district's fiscal condition in 2018 concluded that the structural deficit "threatens its long-term viability and its ability to deliver basic education programs."

A major driver of the budget problems at the LAUSD is employee pension and health care costs. According to the budget task force, those costs will consume more than half of the district's annual budget by the end of the next decade. Since there is no way to give employees raises without also increasing the future liabilities owed by the pension system, boosting pay now will only add to the long-term problems facing the district.

"LAUSD has already offered much more than it can afford (increase teacher pay across the board, dollars for lower class sizes, and new positions) so either way the resolution will likely expedite the drawdown of the district's reserves," says Aaron Smith, an education policy analyst for the Reason Foundation, which publishes this blog.

The other major issue is class sizes. The union is demanding that the district hire more teachers and staff to reduce the average class size in Los Angeles schools—which currently range from an average of about 26 students per class in elementary schools to nearly 40 per class in the city's high schools. In its most recent offer, the school district said it would set caps of 37 students for high school classes and 34 students for lower grades.

But while smaller class sizes would be nice, that's far from the only consideration facing the LAUSD. As even former Obama-era Education Secretary Arne Duncan has argued, teacher quality matters far more than class size as a determinant of student outcomes.

Hiring more employees is unlikely to solve the district's problems. Since 2004, the LAUSD has seen a 16 percent jump in administrative staffers while student enrollment has fallen by 10 percent. Increasingly, students (and their parents) are opting for charter schools, which have proven to be successful and efficient alternatives. More than 160,000 students already attend charter schools in Los Angeles, and another 41,000 are on waiting lists trying to get in.

The school district likes to blame its structural problems on the loss of students to charter schools—but the real problem is that LAUSD has failed to adapt to changing circumstances. In 2015, the district's Independent Financial Review Panel made a series of recommendations to help the district adjust to competition from charters—for example, if employees and retirees had to cover just 10 percent of their health insurance premiums, the district could save $54 million annually. Those ideas have mostly been ignored.

A long strike will likely only exacerbate those problems, warns Smith. A protracted strike may encourage more families to seek out alternatives to the public schools.

"If anything," he says, "the strike will further illustrate exactly why more (not fewer) charters are needed."

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  1. Federal bureaucrats not getting paid and now teachers not getting paid?

    Donations to the Democratic Party are gonna be way down for awhile.

    1. Perhaps. Fortunately, the Republicans are pissing the bed with lies, incompetence, and bigotry, and America’s electorate approves each day, so Democrats will require fewer dollars to arrange the usual advantage among national voters.

      1. shut up, baby dick.

      2. You have a tremendous opportunity to buy a gun and shoot yourself in the face. Take advantage!

  2. That’s unpossible. Every teacher I know on facebook constantly reminds me that all teachers just love the children and are only it to shape young minds.

    1. You know who else was only in it for the love of children?

      1. Issac Davis?

      2. Michael Jackson?

      3. Woody Allen?

        1. R Kelly?

          Jimmy Savile?

          NAMBLA?

          Kevin Spacey?

          1. You forgot Gary Glitter and Jerry Sandusky. And Tony.

          2. You forgot Gary Glitter and Jerry Sandusky. And Tony.

      4. Chef from Southpark?

        1. The Catholic Church?

      5. Tony?

        1. …Podesta?

          1. I was thinking longtime malignant Reason commenter Tony.

      6. Fogle?

      7. The 1988 LP platform committee?

      8. Santa Claus?

    2. Yeah man! Like Global Warming Damon’s mom, as he told Scrooge at Reason TV! She’d rather work for free because she loves kids, but, Solidarity… union rooolz…
      We need strikers like the Chicago Fire Department fired by Jane Byrne, or the Air Traffic Controllers the Gipper released from bondage. Atlas Shrugged was patterned after a 1919 Soviet Eisenstein movie titled The Strike, so why not go the limit?

  3. Instead of providing heal insurance to teachers and retired teachers, cities should set up free health clinics for them staffed with graduates from their public school system. Within a few years, this will greatly reduce their pension obligation. In certain circumstances, like detente, collective evolution happens.

  4. The district can’t afford the 3 either.

  5. >>>teacher quality matters far more than class size

    they say that but don’t mean it.

  6. (Update: The average LAUSD employee earns $73,000 annually.)

    Is that take home or with benefits?

    1. Even in LA, 73k including benefits for 9 months of work is pretty decent pay. And that’s average pay too. A lot of teachers are pulling more than that.

    2. This is total pay and benefits, without benefits. The number is based on only full-time employees who have been with the district since at least 2014 or earlier.

      Keep in mind this is ALL employees, in this case since we’re dealing with a teacher strike a more relevant number might be the $84K average for teachers.

      The point of my article, however, is not so much the absolute level of pay, but the fact that the rate of increase is well above both inflation and the rate of wage increase in the private world.

      1. In my opinion, the main point isn’t the amount of the pay or the amount of the increase. The real point is that the district obviously cannot pay it. Really, that’s the kicker. If they were paid a million a year, that would be fine if the district could afford it.

  7. $73,000 for 9 months of work a year in a job where it is nearly impossible to get fired.

    Must be nice.

    1. Would you want to live on $73,000?

      1. Marry another teacher. That is plenty for a comfortable life and you can supplement in the summer.

        You don’t need to put any away in a 401k because a nice pension awaits you.

        Not a bad gig at all.

        1. Don’t forget that many California cities set aside preferred below market cost housing in new developments for under appreciated public servants like teachers, police and firefighters, all of whom make above average incomes with lavish pensions and benefits compared to the average worker, along with units for low income people.

          1. I notice that their complaint is that the classes are so huge.

            Hmm, any guesses WHY they have so many more kids than they did in the past? It’s not like Californians are more fertile than anybody else…

            1. Build the wall.

      2. More money than a dropout like you will ever see Arty. Kill yourself.

      3. I’d pay someone $73,000 if they’d guarantee they’d administer 73,000 beatings to your retarded face with a lead pipe.

        1. Why do you hate lead pipes so much?

      4. Is $73,000 a year really so insuffient to you, Arthur?

    2. I don’t know about that. Say you hate gays and see what happens. Or sleep with a student.

  8. How does this affect charter schools? I guess they get their funding from the school district but either don’t have union teachers, or have different contracts, since the whole point is to have independence of a sort.

    Could parents suddenly start shifting their kids to charter schools and really stick it to the school district and its unions?

    1. Can only speak for arizona.

      Charter school teachers here are largely school contracted. Per student costs are 1000 a year less than public schools yet. Harter school teachers earn about 8% higher salary. Charter schools also well outperform their public counterparts on average scoring on average a half grade higher on standardized tests. Charter schools are a lottery system and have to accept and provide care help for all students who are part of the school.

      1. vouchersvouchersvouchersvouchersvouchersvouchers

  9. It’s immoral for parts of the government to shut down, holding citizens hostages in the name of advancing the cause of the few.

  10. the structural deficit “threatens its long-term viability and its ability to deliver basic education programs.”
    The primary function of public education is to ensure that the grownups get paid. Any actual education taking place is purely accidental.

  11. “Build more bridges damn it, not walls. And when massive amount of people cross the bridge and send their kids to the schools, build more schools, hire more staff, and raise teacher salaries and pensions. And after that build more hospitals, hire more doctors, and give everyone free healthcare. And when businesses cross the bridge and hire workers in foreign countries, get all mad and vote for someone like Trump again”

  12. You would think that if these people were confident that they were worth being paid more money, and the district refused, that they would just look for teaching work some place that valued them as highly as they do themselves.

    1. I doubt they are confident of anything. As far as they are concerned, they are teachers; ergo, they should receive more money. Forever and ever without end.

  13. According to bls.gov these teachers are below average college entrants who work about 15-20% less hours in a year with far more sick and personal time. Why do they need 6% raises?

    1. Because they are greedy, entitled folk who are puffed up from the massive amount of bullsit propaganda about how overworked and underpaid they, cops, and firefighters.

      Fuck all of them.

      Hanks to some govt. program, the guy who used t9 live across the street from me was able to buy his house (a bank repo) for $70k below market. After prices went up a little, he sold it about three years later for al ost $100k profit. On the backs of the rest of us.

      Fuck him, and fuck all the teachers. Most of them aren’t very good anyway, and don’t work very hard. For what they get.

      1. Please tell me Shithead how it feels to log onto a forum in order suck the dick of someone who already agrees with you? Does his warm, agreeable cum help you find meaning in your trash life?

        1. Of whom do you speak bitchcunt? Jesse? Can’t help it if the guy knows what he’s a talking about.

          You would t knokwht that’s like, would you faggot?

          Now fuck off.

          1. What a lame response, shithead. I can tell I struck a nerve based upon your 3 teenager-girl-like follow up responses. What a sad human being

        2. Please tell me Shithead how it feels to log onto a forum in order suck the dick of someone who already agrees with you?

          Just because no one agrees with anything you say is no reason to take your frustrations out on more successful people.

        3. ScooterB…..What’s with the homo-erotic comments….? You’re a school teacher….right…????

    2. I got into teaching a few years ago. The perks are great, especially time off. Career academics always bitch and moan about their situation, though.

  14. “A major driver of the budget problems at the LAUSD is employee pension and health care costs.

    Actually, it’s that scumbag moonbeam buying votes with the Dills Act.

  15. “OK, sorry, we apparently just can’t afford to do this any more. It’s good that the teachers have all gone home, because we’re just shutting down LAUSD. Best of luck, parents.”

  16. So glad I no longer work for LAUSD!!

  17. Remember that the 3% and 6.5% raises mentioned here are applied to the steps in the salary schedule and that advancement to the next step and/or lane step has an increase already built into it.

    For example, in the recent UTLA contract , a teacher in (bear with me) Pay Scale Group 26/Year 7 makes $62,980 and Pay Scale Group 26/Year 8 makes $65,173, a 3.5% difference. If the raise is 3% the next year, the teacher advancing from Year 7 to Year 8 would go from $62,980 to $67,128, or a 6.5% raise. Keep in mind this is a teacher that took no extra credit to advance to the next lane as many do. If he did, his raise would be 10%.

    As with any public sector contract, it’s all about the steps and lanes. The “raises” being reported are not the complete story.

  18. These teachers had better get all they can because their taxes is going to be more than they make if Governor Newsum’s planes comes to frustration.

  19. don’t call them teachers. They are overpaid, greedy, failing, 3rd world leaches.

  20. oh god. I can only immagine this is what we are in for in Chicago again soon.

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  22. Libertarians don’t like unions because their anti-regulation ideology completely reconciles with a free-market of labor AND they still have to share with others to get what they want. They are the whiniest of bitches who hope to die in their castle whilst sucking-off their own dreams of unrealistic free-will and blaming others for their unhappiness.

    1. where do you come up with such stupidity? NPC indeed.

      1. Scooter is a worthless sloppy bottom twink faggot. The on,y thing he is clear on is getting the biggest cock he can get in his well worn rectum. He has the IQ of a small dog.

        Just another subnormal deviant progtard, without an original thought to his claim. And ready for the landfill when the time comes.

    2. where do you come up with such stupidity? NPC indeed.

    3. This libertarian supports private sector unions (with a few reservations). Public sector unions didn’t exist prior to 1964. Government jobs paid slightly less for new hires, but dependable advancement, job security and better benefits meant that plenty of people filled openings. A good example of markets at work.

      1. inoyu: Wrong wrong wrong. Do you even bother reading things before spewing misinformation? National Association of Letter Carriers: 1889. American Federation of Teachers: 1916. Fraternal Order of Police: 1915. And the list goes on. Jesus you people

        1. ScooterB: voice of the left.

          Seriously – this is the emotional state of progressives(ism).
          They are consumed by self hatred, but too constitutionally weak to admit it to themselves. Psychological defense mechanisms may protect their conscious minds from recognizing it, but deep down the psyche knows their existential inferiority. They literally hate others for not being, or appearing, as miserable as themselves. This creates a great deal of resentment in the form of bile, which they spew toward others and also become addicted to.
          Alas, they are too cowardly and lack the volition to end their own misery. Indeed, as a means of self preservation, their purpose in life is to make all others as miserable as themselves.

          1. Is this vacuous tool a new idiot, or a sock of one of our resident lefty cunts?

            1. Leave it to these regular asshole shitposters to 1) Write a lengthy emotional tirade complaining about the emotional tirades of their opposition and 2) continue to be baffled that more new people come here and hate what you libertarian cucks have become.

              1. Shorter Scooter: “um, uh, uh… nuh uh!”

    4. I don’t like unions because they turn gold into dog shit.

    5. I’m pretty happy in retirement living on my farm with my horses. I am also able to afford most what I want, like the duality truck that I got a few months ago and paid cash for it. Not bragging, just smiling.

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    1. Good idea for out of work teachers and federal employees

  24. I’ll take their job, and for less money and no raise.

    1. There are an abundance of people who would gladly take these jobs that are not leftist traitors. A lot of the federal employees are so worthless that trading them for any scab of the street would be a massive improvement.

      Fuck ’em.

      1. Word

  25. public “servants”

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  29. Every day LAUSD schools are shuttered, local kids have 3 times the opportunity to learn something of value.

  30. What am I supposed to tell my 5 year old today when he asks me why theres no school this week? His teacher is feeding him the usual propaganda and all the parents are on board.

    1. Their are plenty of free online schools start with khan academy. just do a name search and you will find them.

    2. Tell him “get packed, we are off to Texas”.

  31. Give the raise, take the pension.

  32. $73,000 for a part-time, seasonal job and they want more?!
    With every bit of human knowledge available in your pocket, why do we still have the archaic system of public schools, except to be a make-work program for medicre publoc college graduates?

  33. What benefit did these teachers provide aside from hands-on sex ed?

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    1. Prostitution is illegal in my state. Sorry!

  36. California needs more sanctuary cities. That should solve the overcrowding problem.

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