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Substitute teachers protest Duffy deal

September 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
There is fallout from major cutbacks in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Angry, pink-slipped teachers are confronting their union president, claiming he made a secret deal with the district.Dozens of substitute teachers protesting outside the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) offices claimed that UTLA President A.J. Duffy did a backroom deal with the superintendent of the district, Ramon Cortines, to fire 6,000 substitute teachers and to replace them with teachers with less seniority.

They say Duffy made this decision without the approval of union representatives.

Duffy he acknowledged that the jobs of less-experienced teachers have been saved and he said they only did this to soften the blow of teacher layoffs from some of the worse schools in the district.

As a result though, many substitute teachers say they have barely worked this school year and many are now concerned that they will now lose their health insurance.

"We're angry, we're upset, we're not working, we're all starving to death, we can't pay our rents, we can't pay our mortgages," said substitute teacher Dave Peters. "Some of us have attempted suicide. There are just a number of things that are really askew thanks to our union president."

"This was done for the students of Los Angeles," said Duffy. "We had over 200 schools where anywhere between five and 54 teachers were let go and those schools were primarily in central, east and south-central L.A., the schools of greatest need. We did it for the students because those students deserve a stable environment."

Union officials add that this agreement is only temporary. They say it's only going to last a year and they're going to do everything in their power to make sure that substitutes with the most experience work enough this school year so that they will receive health insurance.

That's not sitting too well with thousands of substitute teachers. Duffy said this is not the first time his own union members have fought against him, and as budget cuts continue this probably won't be the last time.

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