Written and edited by Norm Scott:
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Three pillars of The Resistance – providing information on current ed issues, organizing activities around fighting for public education in NYC and beyond and exposing the motives behind the education deformers. We link up with bands of resisters. Nothing will change unless WE ALL GET INVOLVED IN THE STRUGGLE!
I’m happy to tell you when I’m right, so I should take my lumps when I’m wrong.
United Teachers Los Angeles won’t be going on strike this week, as I predicted it would back in August. Head over to LA School Report for the details of where things stand now.
Mike Antonucci | October 9, 2018
If you lost your ranch, I apologize.
Back on July 31,
I predicted with confidence that United Teachers Los Angeles would
strike in October — more specifically, the week of Oct. 8, this week.
And while there are still a few days left in the week, and a few weeks
left in October, it looks as though UTLA is committed to waiting out the
entire impasse procedure before walking out.
“There is a legal process that we are respecting, meaning we don’t strike until after the fact-finding report,” wrote UTLA bargaining chair Arlene Inouye in response to a Facebook post.
UTLA and the district have had two mediation sessions so
far, and a third is scheduled for Friday. There is no limit to how long
mediation can last, but once the mediator decides it is fruitless to
continue, and that fact-finding is appropriate, either side can request
it, and then the clock starts.
Each side has a maximum of five days to select a
representative to the fact-finding panel, and a maximum of five days
after that the state Public Employment Relations Board selects a
chairperson. The three-person panel then has a maximum of 30 days to
submit a non-binding report. That completes the process. The district
will then be free to impose its last offer, and the union will be free
Even if the fact-finding process commences immediately
after Friday’s session, it might be Thanksgiving before a strike can be
legally called. The latest rumors are that UTLA will wait until January
before initiating the strike.
I thought I had accounted for the entire process when I made my prediction, but there were details of which I was ignorant.
State law says
that after being appointed, the mediator “shall meet forthwith with the
parties or their representatives.” If “forthwith” is a word you don’t
use regularly, it is defined as “immediately; without delay.”
Clearly UTLA thought that’s what it means, because union officials have been complaining for weeks about the 56-day wait
between the appointment of a mediator and the first mediation session.
What I didn’t know, and still can’t find a basis for in state law or PERB regulations, is that the district was allowed to unilaterally choose the date of the first mediation session from a PERB list.
Mediation does not necessarily have to be a long,
drawn-out process. In fact, the mediator is empowered to call for
fact-finding as early as 15 days after his appointment, which would have
been a date in mid-August.
I am still confident that a Los Angeles teacher strike
will occur, based on the obvious lack of positive movement toward a
settlement. The district’s last “insulting”offer
of a 3 percent increase and an additional 3 percent if financial
conditions permit, is in line with the agreements it has made with its
other unions. In January 2017, UTLA asked for a 7 percent raise
retroactive to July 2016. Its last offer reduced that to 6.5 percent.
That’s not much movement in almost two years, which suggests the union
is not inclined to split the difference with the district.
I have examined 58 recently concluded teacher contract
agreements in California, and in only six cases did the union receive a
wage increase of 6.5 percent or more. Each of those covered a period of
one to three years, and none was retroactive to 2016.
The bones of a deal are there. The district would have to
remove the conditions on the second 3 percent, and punt on its
three-year financial forecast, while the union would have to forget
about raises retroactive prior to 2017. If the money issues are settled,
the others will fall into place or be held over as fodder for the
special school board election in March.
Short of a complete fold by LA Unified, the strike will
come first. I won’t make a second prediction as to when, except to
repeat that soon after payday, which is the fifth of each month, will
maximize the amount of time teachers can remain out before feeling any
If a strike doesn’t happen, I’ll be as happy as anyone — happy enough to write another apology with a smile.