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L.A. Schools, Union Reach Tentative Accord on Raises

September 07, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers union came to a tentative agreement on a one-year salary increase Friday night after months of wrangling.

Schools Supt. Roy Romer said he would take the plan before the Board of Education next week for ratification.

United Teachers-Los Angeles President John Perez said he would present the plan to the union's board and then, if it passed muster, put the contract agreement to a vote by union members.

The two parties withheld details of the proposed agreement, pending approval, but both said they were satisfied.

"This is a fair and reasonable agreement," Romer said. "Over time we need to be sure our teachers' compensation is competitive and can attract high-quality teachers to our district."

Perez and other union leaders have argued that they should get increases of 5% to stem the tide of teachers leaving L.A. Unified for nearby districts.

The wage increases would be the first in two years--taking effect retroactively, beginning July 1 and lasting until next July, when the contract would have to be renegotiated.

The proposal came two days after the school board allocated $56 million to cover rising health insurance costs--an issue on which union leaders said they were prepared to strike.

The district found the money for the raises in a $228-million windfall in unspent funds at the end of the last fiscal year.

An agreement would conclude a months-long war of words between the district and the 48,000-member union and ensure that one of the state's largest labor organizations will be on hand to push for a critical $3.3-billion school construction bond.

"This allows us to get off of this salary issue and work together," Romer said.

A union spokeswoman, Margaret Hojos, said the bond campaign for money to build 120 schools and to renovate and expand 79 campuses is the next issue for the union.

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