LAUSD WIDENS HEALTH BENEFITS $105 MILLION FOR PART-TIMERS.Byline: NAUSH BOGHOSSIAN
In a split vote, L.A. Unified's new school board agreed to pay health benefits to part-time cafeteria cafeteria: see restaurant. workers -- a decision that will cost the cash-strapped district $105 million over three years and could force layoffs of other workers to cover the expense.
Board members who voted against the plan Tuesday said it could set a dangerous precedent and open the floodgates for other unions demanding full health benefits for their members.
Since the district's preliminary budget has already been submitted to county education officials without the benefits package, Superintendent David Brewer This article is about the businessman and Lord Mayor of London; for the American jurist, see David Josiah Brewer
Sir David Brewer CMG (born 1940) was Lord Mayor of London between 2005 and 2006. III has about a week to find $30 million in his 2007-08 budget to pay for the first year of the plan. The district's budget must be finalized See finalization. by Sept. 10.
Two board members -- Marlene Canter canter
a gallop at an easy pace. The rhythm is three-time, first one hind, then the opposite hind with the diagonal fore, then the opposite fore, the leading limb.
collected canter and newly elected Tamar Galatzan -- opposed the controversial plan.
"It sets the precedent that collective bargaining collective bargaining, in labor relations, procedure whereby an employer or employers agree to discuss the conditions of work by bargaining with representatives of the employees, usually a labor union. can happen through board motions, that part-time workers can get health insurance -- and they passed a policy where nobody knows where the money comes from," Canter said. "It's just irresponsible ir·re·spon·si·ble
1. Marked by a lack of responsibility: irresponsible accusations.
2. Lacking a sense of responsibility; unreliable or untrustworthy.
3. to pass motions we cannot afford. I don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. where this board thinks they're going to get that money."
The 5-2 vote raised the hours on the job from three to four each workday for about 2,352 cafeteria workers -- officially labeling them full-time workers eligible for full health care benefits.
But cafeteria workers and Service Employees International Union Local 99 officials insist that after two years in which action was postponed, the vote will ensure adequate staffing for every child to be able to eat at lunchtime.
"They have a multibillion-dollar budget. I know it's hard, but sometimes the kids and the workers have to come first," said Bill Lloyd, interim executive director of SEIU SEIU Service Employees International Union
SEIU Special Education Intake Unit
SEIU Secondary Education Interdisciplinary Unit
SEIU Software Engineering Institute Union Local 99. "It's just there has to be the desire to make the hard decisions. This was an agonizing decision, but I think putting kids first is important."
Board President Monica Garcia said the vote moves the district in the direction of full health benefits for all workers.
"We have a precedent -- where 80 percent of our employees have health insurance, and we have to find a way to get that to 100 percent in a way that doesn't bankrupt the district," said Garcia, denying that her vote was influenced by the unions.
But district staff members, concerned about the motion given the budget constraints A Budget Constraint represents the combinations of goods and services that a consumer can purchase given current prices and his income. Consumer theory uses the concepts of a budget constraint and a preference ordering to analyze consumer choices. , raised questions about behind-the-scenes political maneuvering driving the vote. Sources said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Antonio Ramon Villaraigosa (born Antonio (Tony) Ramon Villar, Jr. on January 23, 1953) is the mayor of Los Angeles, California. He is the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles since Cristobal Aguilar in 1872. , who successfully placed a majority of four supporters on the school board, called his allies to urge them to back the proposal. The Mayor's Office declined to comment on Tuesday's vote.
Still, Galatzan -- who is one of the mayor's supporters -- voted against the measure.
"I thought it was fiscally irresponsible, and it did nothing to help kids," she said. "I truly believe that working people deserve health coverage, but this district is in very precarious financial straits Straits: see Dardanelles; Bosporus. , and ... I don't think it was responsible to add a group of people to the health care system when there was no business necessity shown."
The policy will take effect Saturday, and cafeteria employees will be bumped to four hours of work, but the benefits will go into effect for the 2,352 cafeteria employees Nov. 1.
District officials critical of the plan said the school district does not have the money to fund the full health benefits for three years, and it sets a poor precedent.
The costs of the board action are projected at about $30 million for the 2007-08 year, then $37 million in each of the next two years.
Critics said other unions could now make demands for full-time benefits for their part-time workers. If the remaining 18,000 part-time employees demanded to be bumped to full-time status with full health benefits, the district would face an additional $250 million in ongoing costs.
The LAUSD LAUSD Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles, CA) is currently in negotiations with all its unions.
But giving workers an extra hour will not improve service to students, critics insist. In 1999, there were only eight cafeteria clerks assigned to more than four hours, the district said. By 2002, that increased to 96, but there was no increase in students buying lunch at schools.
Matt Sharp, Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. office director of California Food Policy Advocates, said none of the three studies that looked at low student participation in lunch in 2007 suggested bumping three-hour employees to four-hour workers as a catalyst to improve student participation.
Adding a second lunch period at secondary schools, developing the service and eating areas, and investing in tastier entrees -- all actions the board has begun to implement -- would make the most difference, Sharp said.
The board has postponed a motion to get health benefits for cafeteria workers for years, but when the school board returned from summer break, the motion had been disguised as an action to increase the hours of cafeteria workers so kids have enough time to eat, Canter said.
"This was just a camouflaged cam·ou·flage
1. The method or result of concealing personnel or equipment from an enemy by making them appear to be part of the natural surroundings.
2. Concealment by disguise or protective coloring.
3. , nontransparent motion to get full benefits for cafeteria workers," she said.
The cafeteria vote was the first big one in which Galatzan departed from the other three "reformers" -- Garcia, Yolie Flores Flores, town, Guatemala
Flores (flōrəs), town (1990 est. pop. 2,200), capital of Petén department, N Guatemala. Flores was built on an island in the southern part of Lake Petén Itzá and on the site of the Aguilar and Richard Vladovic.
In some cases, the LAUSD will be paying cafeteria workers -- who make between $10 and $11 per hour -- more in benefits than in salary. Health care costs $600 per month for each employee, said David Holmquist, the LAUSD's interim chief operating officer Chief Operating Officer (COO)
The officer of a firm responsible for day-to-day management, usually the president or an executive vice-president. .
Lorraine Rojel, an LAUSD cafeteria worker for nine years who is a diabetic, has put off eye checkups and dentist appointments because she didn't have the money. After years of attending board meetings to demand health care benefits, she said the vote should have been no surprise.
"I just think it was about time that some people on the school board took a stand for us," said Rojel, who works at Sun Valley's Byrd Middle School.