Saturday, August 04, 2018


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.

From UTLA:

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.


Anonymous said...

Things are terrible inside classrooms in LA. I know an HS English teacher that had 56 kids on average in her classes last year. About three years ago she had a class of seventy and most teachers teach six periods a day for less money than us. How the heck can a teacher have 70 in a class (and Bloomberg isn't the mayor there)? We complain, rightfully so, with 34. Glad to see they are fighting back.
The UFT is an embarrassment, they really aren't a union.

ed notes online said...

We met Alex in July 2009 and he has vision. He is a dynamic leader. And also he is an advocate of social justice unionism and his engagement with the members is an element of SJ unionism. At the time in 2009 there were various caucuses - the opposition had won a few years before but there were divisive issues and they lost the next election. So there has been back and forth. From what I see Alex did not go the caucus route but put together a coalition of people and that coalition gained the support of individuals and caucuses. But not being branded by the ills of caucus history is a way to go here in NYC. Call it United Fightback or something like that and cobble together something for those who want to run in the UFT elections. Each caucus currently has some history - create a coalition.

Anonymous said...

What about the daily danger? The Bill de Blasio administration has made a big deal about the lower student suspension rate but is quiet when it comes to the uptick in student weapon confiscations. This disconnect is one of the reasons that Mayor Bill de Blasio's claim that the city schools are safer than ever is snickered at by most education experts.

In today's New York Post, Susan Edelman has published an article showing that weapon confiscations have risen significantly since Bill de Blasio became Mayor. Despite the skyrocketing student weapon confiscations in school, the suspension and arrest rates have dropped since many of the weapons confiscated were considered legal such as kitchen knives and box cutters, Moreover, principals are reluctant to suspend students caught with weapons because it hurts their statistics when being evaluated in their "quality review" and all suspensions must be approved by the DOE who can and do overrule the Principal's recommendation.

According to the Post;s article weapon confiscations rose an astounding 28% last school year, rising from 2,119 in he 2016-17 school year to 2,718 in the 2017-18 school year,

No wonder students don't feel safe outside their classroom. You can read my posts on weapons in the schools Here, Here, Here, and Here.

James Eterno said...

This one is at least close to the topic as safety should be a contract issue.

Norm, I really don't care what type of unionism it is called. If the members are on board and are willing to fight for better conditions, I can support the campaign.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if granting sanctuary to illegals, adds to class size? classes are always going to be overcrowded, since no one can predict how amny kids will show up on the first day, and the poor neighborhoods where children need their education the most, get shafted.

James Eterno said...

Ok but if we have no immigration, student enrollment drops. Do you think the school districts respond by lowering class sizes or getting rid of teachers?

Anonymous said...

Should t we strike over students bringing weapons to school which puts us all in danger?

James Eterno said...

We should threaten to walk out of specific schools that we deem are not safe and we should have full union support.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James Eterno said...

Please stay on topic. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

So your willing to allow illegals to enter the country to keep teacher jobs? Wow now I’ve seen it all. Go work for Nixon, that’s Cynthia not Richard

Anonymous said...

Open market is closing, i have been ignored for 20 years.

Anonymous said...

Open market should be closed forever - it's a bad joke.

Anonymous said...

The UFT will tell you how wonderful it is.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James Eterno said...

We've asked over and over to stay on topic and not hijack posts.

ed notes online said...

James. My point about Alex and SJ unionism is that no teacher union can win a strike without building strong alliances and support with community and parents. And students too when possible. That is why I reject simple calls for sticking only to bread and butter issues. Any teacher union in big cities that strikes only for salary will not win - it is different in red states where teachers are practically eating dog food and the public is more supportive. But even they did work with communities to gain support.
The problem I've had with some versions of SJ unionism is the neglect of teacher issues. Those issues are also SJ and should be integrated. On the surface it seems the UTLA is doing that though at times we do hear the same type of complaints about them from a segment of the union that feels abandoned.
Alex by the way was in the very first class of Teach for America as was Gary Rubinstein -- and having them as critics of TFA is important.

James Eterno said...

Agree on community support and having parents and students with you to win a strike. Teacher interests coincide with community issues for sure in many ways.

That said, if a union is not looking out for their membership, why have a union?

If I could engage in a bit of thinking way outside the box, we have a bunch of non money issues we should be able to threaten a strike or walkout over. Among these are C4E class size reduction law being ignoref, grade fraud and intimidation on grades, teacher autonomy, school safety, tenure delays, and of course seniority tranfer rights and ability to grieve file letters. Add in the grievance process too.