The piece below came to us from Los Angeles, California where the United Teachers of Los Angeles are fighting back against austerity and privatization. They are calling for a strike authorization vote later this month. UTLA's president is Alex Caputo Pearl, a one time dissident who we met in Chicago in 2013.
Read below to see how UTLA does not have a secret negotiating committee like the UFT here in NYC. We can tell you what LA teachers are demanding and the response from the district.
In addition, please don't tell me how it is different in NY because the Taylor law prohibits strikes by public employees here. We do not involve nor mobilize teachers so we could actually engage in a real fight for a good contract. We negotiate behind closed doors and then the UFT leaders send their paid staff out to sell the contract to us rather than involving the membership in the process. It is different in Los Angeles.
PERB Confirms Impasse; We Gear Up for Strike Authorization Vote
Although LAUSD claims otherwise, the California Public Employment Relations Board today confirmed what UTLA declared two weeks ago – that negotiations between UTLA and LAUSD are in a deadlock – and a state mediator has been appointed. UTLA is also preparing to conduct a strike authorization vote Aug. 23-30.
“PERB’s decision agrees with UTLA in our belief we are at impasse,” said Arlene Inouye, Chair of the UTLA Bargaining Team. “While we move forward with a state mediator, and continue to try to reach an agreement with the district — one that respects students,educators and the community — we also must mobilize our members for a strike, if one becomes necessary.”
Chapter Leaders will be holding critical chapter meetings on the first day back at school, on Aug. 13, regarding a strike authorization vote at the end of the month.
UTLA’s bargaining team has negotiated for more than 16 months. During that time, UTLA has done informational leafleting, school site picketing, rallies at the School Board, coalition actions with parents, faculty meeting boycotts, regional rallies, delegations to elected officials and a 12,000-member demonstration in downtown LA on May 24.
“Led by Supt. Austin Beutner, the district is trying to blame UTLA members, saying we are being unreasonable in our contract demands. We want to reprioritize LAUSD’s $1.7 billion in unrestricted reserves back into the classroom. Those funds can go a long way to give our educators a fair wage, lower class sizes and hire more nurses, counselors and librarians,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl. “The district has chosen a path of austerity and cuts, and we are fighting to reinvest and save public education. Enough is enough.”
When UTLA declared impasse last month, LAUSD officials said they would bring significant proposals to July 24 bargaining. Instead, they brought a previously proposed 2% ongoing salary increase, an additional one-time 2% bonus and a $500 stipend for materials and supplies.
“Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. We must continue to fight for a sustainable future, yet we don’t have a partner in the very school district we are trying to save,” Caputo-Pearl said. “We have been pushing for real change, they are keeping the status quo.”
Some key deadlocked bargaining issues:
Class Size Matters. LAUSD gave no proposals to reduce class size. LAUSD has some of the highest class sizes in the nation, yet refuses to eliminate section 1.5 of the contract, which allows the district to ignore class size caps.
Improve School Safety. With a student-to-counselor ratio of 945:1 in California and student-to-nurse ratio of 1,224:1, LAUSD refuses to add more school nurses, counselors, social workers, librarians and other staff; rejects greater educator and school employees input on campus safety plans.
Fund Our Schools. LAUSD gave no proposals to address funding issues. California is the richest state in the nation, yet ranks 43 out of 50 in per-pupil funding.
Support Community Schools. LAUSD gave no proposals to fund Community Schools. Community Schools meet the needs in the surrounding community, including wrap-around services, broadened curriculum and parent engagement.
Less Testing & More Teaching. LAUSD gave no proposals to address overtesting. Our kids are being overtested. Their teachers should have more discretion over what and when standardized assessments are given.
End the Privatization Drain. LAUSD gave no proposals for reasonable charter accountability and co-location measures. LAUSD refuses to address the $590 million lost to the unchecked expansion of charter schools each year.
We support the UTLA efforts to win a good contract.