UTLA Conference Leaders Call for Schools LA Students Deserve
Leadership and members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) are fighting for the Schools Los Angeles Students Deserve, and they are ready to strike for it, as evidenced at the 2017 UTLA Leadership Conference.
In a letter to the 650 UTLA site leaders who attended the three-day event, the organization's officers wrote, "We will not be able to win—at the bargaining table, at school sites, in Sacramento, and beyond—without all of us being ready to walk the line together."
UTLA's contract expired in June and their health benefits expire in December. The organization will, however, bargain as hard as possible to avoid a strike in February. Among the things they want are:
- A fair pay raise and protection of active and retiree health benefits.
- Lower class sizes and more support staff for students.
- Increase school-site power to represent members, enforce the contract and address school-site concerns.
Such "requirements" are amplified presently as some fear the dismantling of and equity and access to public education.
"At the core of UTLA's strategic plan is a very basic concept: if public education is to survive and thrive in Los Angeles, it is time for us to call the question on why our schools are being starved," said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl in his State of the Union speech at the conference.
His plan? A bold concept he calls "20 by 20," funding Los Angeles schools at $20,000 per pupil by the year 2020. This would be a leap from the present $11,000 per student. But, according to Caputo-Pearl, other states poorer than California are in the $20,000 per pupil range.
"Teachers choose their profession because they are passionate about education and sharing knowledge," says David Goldstein, a partner in the law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP (GEK).
"I have represented them for more than 30 years when they get hurt at work, and their dedication to 'their kids' is clear. What is also clear, however, is that oftentimes they work under horrible conditions—toxic exposure, violence from students, parents and community members, structurally unsafe workplaces, overcrowded classrooms…the list goes on and on.
"It was inspiring to be on hand again at UTLA's annual conference. My associate attorney Kelly Peterson and I were able to witness the labor movement in full swing with Caputo-Pearl's motivational speech. It was also wonderful to meet with UTLA staff and chapter chairs at our booth who were very interested in learning more about workers' compensation law so that they could share that knowledge with others. We are in this together--fighting for justice on behalf of teachers, students and the community."