The refusal for more than nine months of the Los Angeles Unified School District to offer a fair settlement for nearly 30,000 teachers is frustrating. That frustration is exacerbated when the city's major newspaper serves to perpetuate the district's dishonest claims.
As I have repeatedly stated, the leadership of United Teachers Los Angeles would never permit the issue of agency fee to serve as a barrier to a fair settlement for the bargaining unit. Contrary to The Times' story (April 7), the issue of agency fee did not serve to abrogate a potential settlement. Rather, the barrier to a settlement is--and always has been--the failure of the district to offer a fair salary increase.
Thousands of the district's non-teaching employees are paid far better salaries than are teachers. A beginning mail supervisor, for instance, receives an annual salary nearly $9,000 more than a starting teacher with a bachelor's degree and a California teaching credential. Four years later, that mail supervisor has received a $7,204 salary increase; the teacher, $1,418. The difference becomes nearly $15,000.
UTLA does not object to the salaries paid the non-teaching staff. Those men and women, we believe, deserve the salaries for which they work so hard. UTLA also believes that teachers--the key to the educational process--are deserving of comparable compensation.