UTLA demands that district negotiates with it first, before adding four days to year for students behind after pandemic
The union representing Los Angeles Unified teachers is weighing whether to ask its members to boycott an extra day of work planned for October, in a dispute over whether district officials had the right to tack on four days of voluntary paid teaching aimed at helping children who fell behind during the coronavirus pandemic.
The so-called “Student Acceleration Days”, scheduled for four Wednesdays during the school year, are voluntary for both students and teachers, and are intended to help students who struggled academically during the pandemic to catch up.
Teachers aren’t required to work these days, and those who do will receive extra pay.
Despite the days being optional, United Teachers Los Angeles filed an unfair practice charge with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board this month, alleging the district was wrong to unilaterally alter the school calendar without first making a good-faith attempt to negotiate with the union.
The district said in a statement last week that the days are “purely optional” and would allow teachers “the opportunity to work with small groups of students who may need additional instruction” while receiving extra compensation. It further stated that it has and will continue to meet with the union.
Still, UTLA maintains that the extra days should have been negotiated since it impacts employees’ work volume and schedules. Adding the extra days means the school year will end four days later in June, the union has said.
On Friday, Aug. 12, the union sent a memo to its members, which the Los Angeles Daily News has reviewed, announcing it will poll its members next week about potentially boycotting the first of the four “acceleration” days, scheduled for Oct. 19.
Rather than encourage employees to work it, UTLA officials are considering calling a downtown rally for that day to promote the union’s “Beyond Recovery” platform, which lays out issues it wants to address in its current contract negotiations with the district.
The memo said UTLA’s bargaining team will continue to try and resolve the dispute with the district over the four extra days.
“However, if the district and (Superintendent Alberto) Carvalho proceed in unfairly implementing their new schedule, the UTLA Officers, Board of Directors, Bargaining Team, and Chapter Leaders who met at the Leadership Conference recommend that C-Basis employees unionwide boycott volunteering for October 19 and instead hold a rally downtown in support of the Beyond Recovery platform,” the union stated in the memo.
About 80% of UTLA members are classified as “C-Basis” employees, meaning they have the option of working on Oct. 19. If the union proceeds with the boycott, the other 20% of UTLA members who must work that day would be encouraged to pass out leaflets and engage in outreach with parents before and after school, according to the memo.
UTLA represents about 34,000 teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses and other certificated employees.
Meanwhile, until decisions are firmed up regarding the boycott, the union is asking its members not to sign up to work the optional day in October.
“It is critical that you protect your right to boycott by NOT signing up to volunteer for October 19,” the memo stated.