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L.A. Unified goes to court to fight teachers strike

School officials said they will seek an immediate court injunction to stop Friday’s scheduled one-day teachers strike.

The expected Tuesday morning filing in L.A. Superior Court is part of a two-pronged legal strategy by the Los Angeles Unified School District. Last week, in its first move, the school system filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Public Employment Relations Board in Sacramento. That action, too, could lead to a court injunction ordering a halt to the strike.

But the employment board might not act in time to stop the strike, or it might simply decide against intervening.

“We’ve decided to go to court tomorrow morning to directly seek a temporary restraining order against the strike,” said district general counsel Roberta Fesler. “Time is of the essence.”

The school system also unsheathed a weapon in the public-relations war over the looming strike. Officials said that about a third of teachers at Verdugo Hills High have elected to cross picket lines if necessary and donate that day’s salary to the cost of retaining teachers at risk of being laid off.

Nearly three-quarters of the teachers who cast ballots favored the strike. But a majority of teachers overall either did not vote or voted against the one-day walkout. Organizers said the purpose of the action is to protest teacher layoffs and the campus disruptions that would result because of increasing class sizes and because many teachers would have to switch schools. More than 2,500 teachers are at risk of being laid off, as are about 2,600 non-teaching employees.

Employee unions have urged the school system to use as much of its federal economic stimulus money as necessary to save jobs now.

District officials have insisted on splitting the money between the 2008-09 and the 2009-10 school years because each is expected to be economically dire. They say jobs can be spared if employees agree to wage concessions, such as unpaid furlough days.

In a related budget move today, L.A. Unified announced an early-retirement incentive for non-teachers. The union representing these workers supports this initiative. A similar plan for teachers has netted nearly 1,400 participants, which has reduced the number of anticipated layoffs.

-- Howard Blume

Blume is twittering about budget woes in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Follow his updates at http://twitter.com/howardblume.

Comments () | Archives (20)

I voted No, but I'm going to walk because that's how the vote came out.

The Verdugo teachers are playing right into the district's hand. There is still plenty of fluff to cut. If they think a pay cut is okay, it'll be YEARS before we regain our current pay. Other districts in LA County do far better than we.

Unions are not the problem. Students are riding the gravy train and wasting our time and money. Change will only come when students and parents are held accountable. Social promotion is still the policy through 9th grade in California. The students know this and have zero motivation to pass classes. Social promotion must end now. In addition, students should be given one chance to pass a class. If they fail their parents should be required to pay a fee for each successive attempt or for summer school. The gravy train for students must end now. You want to see change? Make students and parents accountable and watch what happens.

Give me voucher for my children and i'll gladly remove them from the pathetic public education system and place them in private institution where teachers are accountable for results.

I am a teacher at Verdugo and the statement about one third of teachers electing to crosss the picket lines is a flagrant lie!! No such election was held. A proposal was discussed and never voted on. A letter was circulated in an unfortunately unprofessional manner, so that people who signed it believed they were signing something else. I personally know three people who have already retracted their names from that letter. As at many schools, the way forward has elecited much discusssion and debate. All Verdugo teachers I have talked to are 100% against the districts increase in class sizes and cuts in teacher positions. There are always dissenters, but Verdugo teachers as a whole stand with their colleagues and their union. This is just another attempt by the district to divide teachers and run rough shod over serious objections to their anti-education plans.

The teachers, administrators, students and parents are all sinking in the same leaky lifeboat. Ossified Unionist points to the in-gushing hole under Incompetent Administrator and refuses to bail because it isn't her hole. Incompetent Administrator sees the hole under Disengaged Parent and accepts no responsibility for the disaster. Disengaged Parent sees that neither Ossified Unionist or Incompetent Administrator is going to save the boat, but can't be bothered except to demand social promotions for Failing Student. Failing Student sees no point in even being in the lifeboat because his iPod batteries have died, and knows that none of the others can stop pointing their fingers at each other and stick them in their holes to stop the leaks. At this rate, it'll keep on sinking.

We are facing unprecedented economic times and the Californian tax payer is being asked to sacrifice more and more every day. The private sector is laying off people in the thousands, both blue and white collar workers alike. Everyone seems to be feeling the pain except for the teachers and their union who want more and more from an over worked and over taxed public.

The teachers are not telling us what, we the people, will get in return for more money and excempting them from the layoff occurring everywhere. All that we as taxpayers receive in return for our investment is a failed system with layers and layers of bureaucracy and a 50% drop out rate. Any business that had a product quality rating of 50% would have been out of business or at minimum the leaders and bureaucracies reorganized. Never, in the history of business has the answer been to inject more money/assets into a failed product.

What the teachers and their union are doing to us is threatening our children if we do not give them what they want. This is no different than the pirates off the Somalian coast who hijack a ship and hold the ship and crew hostage only to request ransom money.

Let us stop the waste and have the LAUSD reorganize its labor force, put money in the classrooms and not in the layers of bureaucracies, outsource (janitors, plumbers, gardeners, cafeteria workers and all not classroom related jobs to the private sector), and hold the teacher accountable. Otherwise, give us vouchers or set-up charter schools that compete for our tax dollars.

Hmm, well, we'll see what happens with the long arm of the law. Sometimes justice prevails and sometimes it doesn't.
I am proud to have voted yes and to walk, standing together to make the statement that we are people and we are people in need of fair treatment does help the children, which is the real reason we are standing up at all. Yes we want to save jobs and families, but without teachers available, the students will be left completely stranded by the only ally they have in the corrupt system that is public school. We are fighting the battle for them, and yes, I agree with the comments made by "LAGringo" above; that the parents and the students must take responsibility and be held accountable; but we can do what we can do and right now, we can stand up together and shout that we believe in fair treatment and the butterfly effect. Sometimes, all you need is a voice and the courage to speak out.
Looking forward to walking with all of you.

Why? Let them strike. Our kids our better without LA Unified. Let's see...1) LA Unified conceals and protects sexual predators, 2) they pay teachers who are deemed not fit to teach while they are awaiting review and 3) they have nearly the worst performance record of any school system in the nation. The teachers and kids are better without LA Unified.

when are parents going to be held accountable for their kids?!?!? at schools when there is high parental involvement the results are conclusive. it is very easy to place blame on teachers, what about the home environment? read some books to your kids, take them to the library, both USC and UCLA offer plenty of free events, from interesting speakers to performing arts. a 50% high school drop out rate at LAUSD is not the result of bad teaching, it is a result of bad parenting. like keanu said in the move Parenthood "you need a license to catch a fish but you don't need a license to have a kid". but keep on blaming the teachers. Both the CTA and UTLA have so many members and so much polictical clout they can do pretty much as they please including the walkout on Friday.

"All Verdugo teachers I have talked to are 100% against the districts increase in class sizes and cuts in teacher positions"

Is not just Verdugo teachers, EVERYONE is against increase in class sizes, including LAUSD. The problem is that there is a budget deficit that must be dealt with, and is not just due to budget cuts, but a 15% decline in student enrollment the last three years. Until the teacher's union is about solutions, instead of about securing benefits and protecting all teachers (including those that should not teach), their message sounds hollow and not in the best interest of the students, good luck in getting any sympathy throught a strike ... the only losers in this battle are the students.

Public School teachers ALWAYS get the shaft! If there is a deficit to be made up, it shouldn't include public education. Public schools are already at the bottom, especially in PAY. Leave them alone!! I don't think a 1 day strike will accomplish much (they should walk for as long as it takes, for LAUSD to get their act together) however, LAUSD teachers should suport the walk-out.

Since this is ALL About Money....what' s LAUSD complaining about? Since the District says they need money, the Teachers will will strike for a day are giving them a GIFT, NO PAY FOR a DAY. Looks like a Win-Win to me. I doubt any student will remember Friday better than as the day in the middle of 'The Great Recession", no education took place. Honestly, I think that maybe this may very well be a GREAT Learning Day for kids too. Let Um Strike!

"Concerned Parent and taxpayer" - said it all.

Wow, reading some of your comments, it is clear to me that the majority does not understand how school finance works.

1. In simplistic terms, schools receive a majority of their revenue from the state, based on weighted average daily attendance (# of days of school attended by students throughout the year). This is why schools have policies discouraging absenteeism.

2. If teachers strike and students don't come to school, LAUSD loses a large amount of revenue.

3. The state is facing a $50 billion deficit. State revenues are down, expenses continue to rise and in general, the State's financial situation is a disaster. The state simply has no choice but to cut its expenditures, which, like it or not, will certainly have a huge negative impact on schools.

4. Again, schools rely on the state for much of their revenue. This revenue is decreasing and based on reasonable estimates, will be as bad or worse next year. As such, schools have no choice but to cut their expenses, which are largely salaries and benefits.

5. Schools can cut expenses in two ways. The first option is to simply fire staff. This is the easiest option for schools because they don't have to negotiate with unions. The second option is to reduce salaries and benefits. This is nearly impossible as it requires approval by unions to implement.

So, the bottom line is that because of the unions it is more likely that schools will fire employees rather than reduce pay or benefits. The schools have no choice to do one or the other, and to me, the union's position is reprehensible.

So, we have a union walking out on, and abandoning, students. Thank you for reminding us how unions are the key players in destruction of public education. Truly sick people.

Also, please keep in mind, this problem is not a problem of tax receipts. The problem is that the California Legislature has OVERSPENT all our tax dollars. There is a reason nearly all states that ran up huge budget deficits, and could possibly face bankruptcy, have union controlled, Democrat Legislatures. These people have ruined our state, and are in the process of ruining our lives.

The best thing we could do is to move the California Legislature to part time, and cut their pay, staff, managerial budgets, and expense accounts in half. At least that way they can only do 1/2 the damage!

California teachers are the highest paid in the nation plus unlike private sector workers get excelllent medical and retirement benefits. All that plus they work only 9-months out of the year, get all state and Federal holidays PLUS summers off!! What are they fussing about??

How much of a pay cut are pencil-pushing, school administrators taking during these dire economic times? How many of them are being laid off?? Where is the so-called "shared sacrifice???" Probably the same answer as our wonderful elected leaders in Washington -- they're all receiving PAY INCREASES. Amazing how we can fight two wars, give tons of aid to countries like Israel and bail out every sorry SOB on Wall Street, but we still cannot provide decent funding for education and healthcare for our own people. I'm not a teacher, but it's pretty easy to see that teachers are getting screwed by the establishment (and the government) right along with the rest of us these days. It's about time that regular, hard working Americans became the most important lobby in Washington. Unfortunately, such recognition will probably only come through strikes, mass protests and violence -- as our government seems to understand little else. I say STRIKE!

It's time for students to back up their Teachers. If the Teachers can't strike Students will! We need to take a stand for our own education. Sit-In at Venice High School May, 15, 2009 8:00am-2:00pm

Sudent Sit-in Venice High School Friday May 15 2009!
Students support their Teachers and refuse to except increasing class numbers and lessening Teachers.


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