Letters | Open Letters to the United Teachers of Pasadena

Published : Tuesday, February 27, 2018 | 6:26 AM



Pasadena Now continues to receive letters from Pasadena Unified parents and teachers.


I am a dues paying member of UTP. I was a site union representative for four years. I was a member of the UTP Organizing Committee for three years. I have continually made sure that my school is always well represented at all UTP rallies and events. However, I must now disagree wholeheartedly with the union’s bargaining committee and our union president regarding their latest position on the District’s Supplementary Resignation/Retirement Plan (or commonly known as a “Golden Handshake”). Due to this position, PUSD has rescinded its offer of a Supplementary Resignation/Retirement Plan.

I am writing this letter not out of “sour grapes”, because the planning stages for my retirement have been in the works for over two years. I am writing on behalf of the entire 900+ UTP membership who were never asked by the bargaining committee their opinion on the issue of the Retirement Plan! Yet they’ve supposedly been bargaining on our behalf! We all know about the financial straits that the District finds itself facing. As teachers, we are very aware of the rash spending spree the District has been on over the past few years and how “top heavy” our administration is. Hopefully, we can all agree that due to the mismanagement of funds the District needs to figure many ways to pay down the huge debt it has incurred.

One of those ways was offering the Resignation/Retirement incentive to qualifying teachers. UTP never surveyed its entire membership to find out how many teachers would actually accept this offer. The bargaining team wants all cost savings to be applied to teacher salaries and benefits, “as determined by the Association”. To quote UTP’s latest Bargaining Matters newsletter, “UTP members did not cause the deficit, but are being asked to sacrifice again and help solve the District’s budget crisis”. Asking that the cost savings be applied to teachers’ raises does not make any fiscal or common sense at this time. My analogy to this train of thought is to think of a family who is facing bankruptcy and financial ruin due to parental mismanagement of their credit card spending. Yet, the parents go out and spend lavishly on their children at the holidays because “the children did not cause their family’s debt”!!!

I haven’t even mentioned how this decision will affect the 60+ young, dynamic teachers who face layoff notices due to this crisis. Low moral and uncertainty will, without a doubt affect their teaching. In the long run, our students, who always seem to be forgotten in all the discussions, will really bear the brunt of this decision. They will be taught by disappointed teachers who were thinking about resigning/retiring but didn’t because the golden handshake was rescinded. The students will be taught by teachers who were given pink slips and most likely will just “give up” for the remainder of the school year, and will spend time searching out of district for employment or anxiously waiting through the summer for reassignment. With budget cuts now having to be made elsewhere, I can bet it will be at the classroom level, where once again, our students, our primary “customers” will be the losers in this mess.

UTP please consider surveying the membership, those whom you represent, and then sit down at the bargaining table again, and straighten this out.

Ann C. Palmer
3rd Grade Teacher
Jefferson Elementary School


Re: Golden Parachute 2018                                                                                                         February 25, 2018

Union Negotiating Team:

I was stunned and outraged to read the letter from the Superintendent regarding the negotiations for the Golden Parachute offered by the district to help make up a huge deficit in the district.

The union has no right to seize on the purported savings in any way, use the savings as any kind of bargaining chip, and put members like me in the middle as some kind of ping pong ball. How dare you! You have indeed lost touch with your base. Talk to your members!

I was equally chagrined to hear negative talk about the previous buy out at the meeting the other day at Stone Fire Grill. I am glad those members received a golden handshake three years ago. I walked away from it then and have no regrets or jealousy therein. Represent the members and forgo your own private prejudices please!

The union is in denial. Members do not expect any salary increase when the district in near insolvency and fear the consequences of insolvency the most. With no handshake, newer members are affected, retiring or near retiring members are affected and the broad middle is a bit more exposed to the repercussions of a grand shakeup. All of this thanks to the union which in my eyes, no longer represents me or others.

The district savings from the early retirement is not just a one year savings but should be multiplied by a factor of 2 or 3 depending upon how many are enticed to retire more than one year out. It is a district savings—from the salaries that would be paid to me and others—and not a savings for the union to insidiously seize upon for a salary raise or whatever. The union is not about to take over the district and run it like a workers take over in a private firm for profit that is in the red. Get real.
Hopefully, the team will get back to bargaining in the good faith for its members. Its members. Talk to them. If not, me and perhaps others may have to negotiate our retirement circumstances.


Armen Antonian Ph.d (in political economy)

Sierra Madre Middle School

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