Lack of Movement on Contract Negotiations While School Counselors, Librarians and Teachers Cover Vacancies, UTLA Members Cry “Enough!”

(Los Angeles) — Today, United Teachers Los Angeles held a press conference while tens of thousands of educators picketed to demand Los Angeles Unified School District implement UTLA’s Beyond Recovery contract demands, bargain in good faith, release the number of current vacancies at LAUSD, and commit to providing quality pay and benefits to attract educators to the hundreds of unfilled positions across the district.

Until demands are met, 30,000 LAUSD educators will remain vulnerable in the midst of a record-high inflation and a housing crisis. To add insult to injury, a range of educators, including librarians, counselors, district administrators and teachers have been forced to cover classes while maintaining their original workload. This has been to the disadvantage of students and has further exacerbated the issue of teacher retention. In addition, the district has moved extremely slowly on contract core demands, and has yet to fulfill expansion of Community Schools across the district.

“If we want our schools to be successful, we need to make major investments in our educators and communities. Teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses and other staff are currently working under an expired contract. We have presented the district with a comprehensive set of contract proposals that will substantially improve working and learning conditions, as well as help lower-income neighborhoods, but so far the school district has refused to engage meaningfully in our proposals. Educators and families feel the urgency to do something about the issues hurting our students, but that urgency is not being met by district leaders. We want transparency and investment in our schools so that every LAUSD child has the attention they deserve and need to develop the academic and social emotional skills to help shape a better future for all of us,said Cecily Myrart-Cruz, UTLA President. 

Right now, the district sits on $3.4 billion in reserves yet refuses to make the basic investments proven to ensure that all of our students, especially those left most vulnerable due to financial instability and historic disparities, have the greatest chance at success. This summer LAUSD announced that there were over 2,100 unfilled positions. UTLA then released a distressing report on the current and impending educator shortage underscoring the crisis. By August, the district made claims that about 700 of those positions were officially filled following the return of principals and assistant principals to their schools. UTLA raised concerns about the validity of this claim, which was seemingly later backtracked by LAUSD

On October 5, 2022 UTLA filed an unfair practice charge against LAUSD for obscuring the actual number of job vacancies in LAUSD. The result of these vacancies has led to a depreciation of working conditions for educators and learning challenges for students. If left unresolved, the District can expect the number of educators will continue to dissipate and ultimately students will suffer from lack of instruction. 

“I came into the new school year understanding there was an impending shortage, but the workload and stress has exceeded anything my colleagues and I could have imagined. I’m an English teacher who now has to cover math, gym classes, biology, and everything else in between due to the vacancies. My lunch breaks are filled with work because covering classes during my prep period means I can’t plan lessons, grade papers, or schedule conferences with students. At the beginning of my teaching career, I had to work a second job as a gig worker to make ends meet. Never would I imagine that I’d be also taking a second job at my school, without any compensation or at least concern from the school district. Class sizes, lack of resources, and the pandemic have already hurt our students, but not hiring enough teachers and school staff will be the nail in the coffin if LAUSD refuses to address the issue.” said Gina Gray, English Teacher and Member of UTLA. 

“Everyday I see my students struggle because our schools do not have the resources to provide them with the full mental, physical and educational support they need to be successful. This is what is driving our urgency today—until every school has the resources necessary to do more than just scrape by, our students will continue to struggle. When I’ve had to cover classes instead of managing the library, our students lose access to the opportunity to grow their love of reading outside the classroom. My fellow educators and I just want to do the job we were hired to do, instead of covering multiple job descriptions because the district refuses to attract educators with fair salary and benefits offerings. When educators are set up for success with balanced workloads and fair working conditions our students have the resources necessary to flourish,” said Kelly Hulett Peay, Librarian at Wilmington Middle School and Member of UTLA. 

United Teacher Los Angeles demands LAUSD  give an honest account of the number of vacancies in our school district, agree to UTLA contract proposals for competitive salaries to fill those vacancies along with UTLA proposals to  invest in community schools to build sustainable and thriving schools, and complete the outlined tangible steps to ensure all students, regardless of zip-code, reach their full potential.

Pictures of press conference and picketing across LAUSD.