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Agreement restores some non-teaching jobs at L.A. schools

November 1, 2011 |  6:19 pm

Photo: Library aide Mary Bates reads "The Giving Tree" to kindergarten and first grade students in the library at Burton Elementary School in Panorama City. She works six hours a week and LAUSD wanted to cut her to three hours a week. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles TimesNon-teaching employees have ratified an agreement that restores well over 200 jobs at Los Angeles-area schools, but hundreds of others will remain without a job or will continue to work at reduced pay.

The agreement, announced Tuesday, settles for this year a contract dispute between the Los Angeles Unified School District and the California School Employees Assn., which represents such workers as office clerks, financial managers and library aides.

The deal means that every middle school will have at least one six-hour library aide. Middle schools also will have a full-time financial manager. More than 120 office clerks will return to work, about half of them in four-hour positions and the rest full time.

The restoration will be paid for with the $2 million that the district saved when each worker took four unpaid days off. The district also is kicking in $6 million that was part of a year-end surplus.

The Los Angeles Board of Education ratified the agreement in October. Employees should be back on the job by mid-November, said district spokesman Thomas Waldman.

Non-teaching employees have suffered thousands of layoffs over the last three years, most recently on Sept. 23 when 748 employees lost positions. In addition, 1,428 workers had their hours reduced or were reassigned to a different job or location, frequently with a reduction in pay.

In some cases, the remaining employees dealt with both challenges, such as library aides who suddenly were offered only three-hour-a-day jobs with no health benefits and often with lengthy commutes.

“Too many people, especially library aides, couldn’t afford to return to work … that caused them to use more in gasoline to get there,” said union field representative Connie Moreno.

Some but not all elementary schools are likely to have a library aide restored. Some schools had already elected to use discretionary funds to keep their library open at least part time.

Job losses and pay reductions haven’t been the only issue. The union also has challenged the legality of the district supplanting professionals -- who frequently must manage confidential documents -- with parent volunteers or part-time, low-wage teacher aides.

Still, both sides seemed relieved to get an agreement on partial restorations.

“I am very pleased that our members overwhelmingly approved” the pact, said union local President Espie Medellin in a joint statement.

“This agreement returns vital staff to many of our campuses,” said L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy. “I applaud CSEA and its members for taking this step. At a time of crippling budget cuts, restoring these positions is especially welcome news for principals, teachers, and parents.”

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-- Howard Blume

Photo: Library aide Mary Bates reads "The Giving Tree" to kindergarten and first-grade students in the library at Burton Elementary School in Panorama City. She works six hours a week and LAUSD wanted to cut her to three hours a week. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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