Last week, hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles families had their lives upended when the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) joined a three day “unfair labor practices” strike of Los Angeles school employees and their union SEIU Local 99. After presenting a defiant tone early and completely closing most schools during the strike, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho eventually agreed to terms that were nearly identical to SEIU’s initial demands. While parents, teachers and school officials all breathed a sigh of relief, the threat of another LAUSD strike, this one led by the teachers union, is still possible before the end of the school year.
The good news for public school families in Santa Monica and Malibu is that such a strike appears very unlikely in either the near or long-term future for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
“In the last year we provided both our SEIU, Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association (SMMCTA) and management team with 10% salary increases, along with a retroactive 10% for the prior school year,” writes Gail Pinsker, a public relations officer with SMMUSD of a pair of deals struck with both unions in the late summer of 2022.
The agreement runs only through June 30 of this year. However, management and the unions have a less contentious relationship than the one in Los Angeles. Long-time school board member Laurie Lieberman expects future negotiations will be smooth as they were in 2022 and previous years.
“It’s fair to say that we try to have a problem-solving approach to concerns that are raised and that we fully recognize the importance of our employees to the success of our district,” writes Lieberman. “Our district’s relationship with our unions is collaborative, mutually respectful and ongoing. Our district and our employee unions are committed to “interest-based bargaining” during negotiations, which has worked well. Meetings between union leaders and SMMUSD leadership occur on a regular basis.”
Agreements reached between SMMCTA or the SEIU and the school district are binding for all union members. Any agreement must be approved not just by leadership, but a vote of the union members and the SMMUSD Board of Education.