January 28, 2019Charter News
Teachers walk the line for a fair contract
Teachers at three south Los Angeles charter schools operated by The Accelerated Schools voted today to approve a new labor agreement and to formally call for an end to their historic eight-day strike. With 78 educators casting ballots, 77 votes were yes (98.7%). The teachers are members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA).
Following a weekend of negotiations mediated by Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price, teachers returned to their classrooms Monday morning with a tentative agreement in hand. Councilmember Price, whose district includes The Accelerated Schools, issued the following statement: “If our communities are to thrive, we must invest in our schools, empower our educators and put students first. The children in our public schools may go on to discover breakthroughs for deadly diseases, develop the next social media platform or build a billion-dollar company; we all share an obligation to help them reach for that mountaintop. The future of our communities will depend on the steps we take today to strengthen our public education system.”
Today’s ratification vote puts in place an agreement that will cover the terms and conditions of Accelerated teachers’ employment through the 2020-2021 school year.
“This contract was hard fought, and we are thrilled to have reached an agreement that will work to combat the 40% to 50% teacher turnover that’s plagued our schools and allow teachers to focus on providing the very best for our students,” said Wallis Annenberg High School teacher German Gallardo. “We went on strike for the schools that our students deserve, and we couldn’t be more proud of them and the families who have showed such incredible support and commitment to our schools over these past two weeks.”
The new contract includes several improvements aimed at reducing teacher turnover by providing increased job security and improvements to teachers’ healthcare benefits.
Newly negotiated provisions include:
- Three months’ severance package including salary and benefits for any teacher who is not offered an employment contract from one year to the next.
- An improved arbitration process that requires a unanimous vote of the Accelerated Board of Trustees in order to reverse any decision made by an arbitrator.
- Annual signing bonuses of $10,000 for teachers who return to their positions at the beginning of each school year.
- The formation of a Collaborative Consensus Committee for stakeholders to discuss issues and create and implement improvements to schoolwide processes and practices.
- Annual increases in the employer’s share of healthcare costs.
“Our strike was critical for our profession, and unfortunately this dispute was a long time coming here at our schools,” said TAS kindergarten teacher Amanda Martinez, “but now it is time for our community to heal. Having this agreement in place provides teachers solid ground to stand on as we work toward building the school that this community deserves.”
The agreement caps more than 20 months of negotiations for a successor contract between unionized charter school teachers and The Accelerated Schools. In November 2018, the parties reached impasse and entered into a state-mandated fact-finding process.
Talks following that process stalled, and teachers at the charter schools voted 99% to approve a strike, which commenced on January 15 — just one day after UTLA teachers at Los Angeles Unified School District began a separate work stoppage.
The LAUSD strike ended with a settlement that led to teachers returning to work on January 22 while The Accelerated Schools strike continued through last week.
The successful strike at The Accelerated Schools was the first charter school strike in California’s history.