Friday, March 21, 2014

Insurgent Slate Wins Big in Leadership Race for L.A. Teachers Local

We heard from people who kept telling us to chill the social justice stuff here in NYC. Yet social justicy people like Alex Caputo-Pearl seem to be winning urban teacher union elections like in Chicago, Milwaukee, a good showing in Newark, people running in Seattle and Portland and probably other places I am leaving out. Unions are getting killed no matter what but the best chance to have a glimmer of hope is a union that can reach deep into the membership and the community for support. LA is somewhat iffy, given that many of the people involved have had some share of power over the years, but never the presidency.

Alex is dynamic and in many ways the LA power structure's worst nightmare. Just watch the fur fly before the run-off. But given the Labor Notes report below the entire fabric of the union is under control of the insurgents.

One interesting point is that Alex has even build alliances with the LA E4E people which I don't totally understand but it will be fun to watch how that angle plays out.

Labor Notes:
March 21, 2014 / Samantha Winslow

An activist slate pledging to reenergize teachers to fight attacks on public schools has just won leadership of United Teachers Los Angeles, the second-largest teachers local in the country.

Union Power’s presidential candidate, Alex Caputo-Pearl, beat out nine candidates with 48 percent—more than twice the votes of his nearest opponent, incumbent Warren Fletcher.

Caputo-Pearl needed 50 percent to win outright, however, so he will face an April runoff against Fletcher.

Outside the top spot, the coalition won outright every spot it ran for, 24 seats. “In every area, in every position it was a big margin between the Union Power candidates and our opponents,” said teacher Rebecca Solomon, who won an executive board spot. “It’s not against one person: it’s everywhere.

“That shows the power of a coherent idea… I think people want to see a big change. People recognize that you need a big team,” she said.


The Union Power slate has spent the past three months flyering outside schools in the mornings, holding lunchtime information meetings, phonebanking, and debating opposing candidates. Caputo-Pearl was endorsed by 230 chapter chairs, the elected teacher representatives at the school level.

Union Power leaders want to turn around the widespread disengagement of the 31,000 rank-and-file teachers from their union—after years of school reorganizations, teacher layoffs, and education cuts. School district leaders are pushing charter schools and working to weaken teachers’ job security and union rights.

Solomon said the win gives her hope, but the low percentage of teachers who voted—23—also shows how much work there is to be done.

The slate members ran on their experience as education activists who’ve already been teaming up with parents to fight school reorganizations and cuts. They’re committed to using what they have learned in local school fights to take on the district as a whole.

Union Power leaders say they will put resources into member organizing, community organizing, and research.


They have a beef with Fletcher’s approach to the expired contract, which has been to bargain and sign off on contract issues piece by piece. Most recently the union agreed to a new teacher evaluation system.

“That has utterly failed,” Caputo-Pearl said. “Small-room negotiations don’t help you in terms of building power on the ground.”

Fletcher won office in 2010, after campaigning on a pledge to focus on teacher pay and benefits and promising to hire a professional negotiator to win a better contract.

This message worked in part because leaders had lost ground in their last contract—right after the 2008 economic crisis brought sweeping cuts to education. They attempted to build to a one-day strike, but were blocked by the courts. Teachers were left feeling deflated.

Today, however, the contract has been expired for two years. The union has failed to mount an aggressive contract campaign, let alone challenge district leaders’ punitive model of education or articulate its own vision.

Instead, Union Power activists argue they need a broad contract campaign. They take inspiration from the Chicago Teachers’ 2012 campaign and strike, where educators mobilized with parents and community supporters at their side.

The next step is to help Caputo-Pearl win the runoff next month.

Meet members of the Union Power slate at the Labor Notes Conference April 4-6 in Chicago.

- See more at:

And then there is the cynical view from Mike Antonucci on the right who doesn't seem to get exactly who Alex is and what he represents. The fabric of an entire high school was changed to try to get him out of the school because of his organizing ability. Let's see how Alex uses union power to reach the "Don't Give a Crap" vote. Oh, what fun!
Posted: 21 Mar 2014 09:44 AM PDT
I’d like to thank United Teachers Los Angeles for giving me an easy Friday this week. Just a few tweaks to a March 30, 2011 post will bring us right up-to-date on the election for president of the union. Here it is:

Back to Basics Candidate Wins Close to Winning UTLA Presidency

Following the line of succession is the preferred method of achieving high office in teachers’ unions, but there is a tried-and-true way for challengers to upset the political order. Accuse the incumbent, or heir apparent, of being too accommodating to district wishes and promise to be more combative in the battle to achieve higher salaries, benefits and job protections.
It has been particularly effective with the United Teachers Los Angeles, and Warren Fletcher Alex Caputo-Pearl utilized it to win dominate the election for the presidency over Julie Washington Warren Fletcher, incumbent vice president. under the term-limited A.J. Duffy. Caputo-Pearl fell just short of an outright majority to avoid a runoff.
Here is Fletcher’s Caputo-Pearl’s short campaign victory interview video, wherein he states, “The union has stopped focusing on its primary job – protecting its members.” “Warren Fletcher’s strategy – the current president, Warren Fletcher – his strategy has been ineffective at actually building power with teachers and communities and parents.”
Fletcher Caputo-Pearl picked up 53% 48% of the votes cast, but as is typical in union elections, turnout was low. Still, I think the non-voters were making their voices heard, just as they did in 2008. We should include them in the results:
Warren Fletcher – 4,711 (11.7%) Alex Caputo-Pearl – 3,408 (10.8%)
Julie Washington – 4,247 (10.5%) Warren Fletcher – 1,508 (4.8%)
Gregg Solkovits – 1,142 (3.6%)
Bill Gaffney – 323 (1.0%)
Saul “The Fighter” Lankster – 287 (0.9%)
David R. Garcia – 261 (0.8%)
Innocent O. Osunwa – 60 (0.2%)
Kevin Mottus – 53 (0.2%)
Leonard Segal – 34 (0.1%)
Marcos Ortega II – 23 (0.1%)
Don’t Give a Crap – 31,308 24,453 (77.8%) (77.5%)

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