Los Angeles school district officials Friday accused United Teachers-Los Angeles of botching a chance to settle a long-running contract dispute that has been stalled over the size of a wage increase, a charge that union officials called absurd.
School board President Rita Walters said at a hastily called press conference at board headquarters Friday afternoon that the two sides had been close to a settlement Wednesday night when union representatives offered to accept a 10% raise retroactive to November, 1986. Walters said district negotiators agreed to the proposal.
But, Walters said, "the deal broke down at the final hour over issues related to agency fee," a contract provision the union has requested since 1975 that would require non-union members to pay dues. The district has always demanded in exchange the right to transfer veteran teachers from suburban schools to the inner city, which union officials have never found acceptable.
Union President Wayne Johnson said at a separate news conference Friday that union negotiators neither made the 10% offer described by Walters nor insisted on an agency fee requirement. Johnson accused the board of sour grapes, noting that the board's charges came on the heels of the union's announcement Thursday that it would oppose in the April 14 election two board incumbents--Walters, who represents South-Central and Southwest Los Angeles, and Harbor-area member John Greenwood.