Saturday, March 22, 2014

LA Teacher Union Election Wrinkle in Time

At the presidential forum...., where the issue was first made public, Caputo-Pearl defended his school site visits. “It’s a way to level the playing field [with Fletcher] who is allowed to be out there, talking to teachers everyday,” he said in an interview with LA School Report. He also said he made all necessary provisions to ensure his students would not be affected. Caputo-Pearl said the district has no right to prevent him from stumping. “Classroom teachers and health and human service workers are incensed that the District has attacked my contractual and legal right to take unpaid personal leave,” he told LA School Report. “When that is taken away by the District – this is classic management interference in a union election, and a glaring unfair labor practice, which we are pursuing filing.”... Alex Caputo-Pearl, LATU Presidential Candidate
Why do I report on union elections outside our city? Because there is so much to learn. What if Julie Cavanagh has been given time off to campaign to counter Mulgrew's full-time campaign? In the 2010 Chicago campaign Karen Lewis was given time to campaign - she even had someone booking her into schools. James Eterno informed me this not allowed in our union. I wonder if this is due to the DOE or the UFT/Unity Caucus influence, which clearly would not want to see this happen. But what if there were a rule here that for the 30 days before an election a presidential candidate could be given time off to make lunchtime appearances in schools for a certain amount of days?

This story below dug up by Francesco Portelos is about a month old but an interesting point given Alex Caputo-Pearl's 48% vote total while incumbent Warren Fletcher received less than half that total. As Alex points out, Fletcher could campaign full-time so the fact that Alex more than doubled his vote is a great sign that campaigning has an impact --- getting a candidate out there is crucial and here in NYC it is impossible for a challenger to Unity to make school visits. Ideally, an opposition would run someone on sabbatical or leave - and MORE for a while considered running Brian Jones for president since he is on study/child care leave and could make school appearances. Actually, he still could have done so and maybe we dropped the ball on not making better use of Brian during the election.

Even though the LA vote total was as bad as it was here in NYC, I believe Alex' victory (if he wins the run-off -- and anything is possible) means something. As I've been pointing out, the AFT convention in LA this summer may be interesting if a coalition forms between insurgents around the nation, including the split-off from statewide Unity in NYSUT. Randi will try to head off any national insurgency by telling everyone she agrees with them -- watch her run to hug Alex. She will sound more militant over the next 6 months. She knows she can count on the 800 Unity Caucus slugs to be there for her but one thing is emerging -- her presidency may be safe (the only one who could challenge her is Karen Lewis and I don't see that happening) but the Unity Caucus control over the national AFT convention will show some serious signs of slippage as battles emerge over control of the committees where a lot of the work takes place.

A MORE contingent hopes to be there to report.

Here are my last 2 reports on the LA elecion where I do some analysis:
LA Teacher Union Election: Union Power Slate Domin...

Insurgent Slate Wins Big in Leadership Race for L...

Older pieces on Alex can be found by using the ed notes search box.

Misunderstood election rules upsetting UTLA candidates

Alex Caputo-Pearl, far right, at UTLA Forum last week
Alex Caputo-Pearl, far right, at UTLA Forum last week

Recent campaign appearances by Alex Caputo-Pearl at schools around LA Unified have ignited a dispute among candidates for UTLA offices who say election rules — such as they are  – are being applied unfairly. The conflict has also brought into focus how misunderstood the rules seem to be.
The source of the infighting is what some candidates perceive as their right to campaign at school campuses during working hours.
The conflict arose last week after Caputo-Pearl, leader of the Union Power slate and one of the perceived front runners for UTLA president in unseating incumbent Warren Fletcher, said his principal at Frida Kahlo High School had granted him about 12 days of unpaid personal leave to visit 30 schools to campaign teachers to vote for him.
That prompted several of his opponents to raise the possibility that his actions were illegal by district election rules. They were, according to Leticia Figueroa, LA Unified’s director of employee performance accountability, who said a school principal has no say in the decision.
She told LA School Report that permission can only be granted by the district Human Resources department and “the employee did not follow district procedures in obtaining appropriate permission for an unpaid leave.”
“There is no paperwork on file with the district’s HR department,” she said. The “paperwork” is a district form that must be completed in requesting an unpaid leave. It lists 15 possible reasons, and none is for election campaigning although one is vague enough to provide a rationale for it — “Personal Leave, not for family illness.”
For its part, UTLA officials say that by union campaign rules Caputo-Pearl’s has done nothing wrong. The union’s labor agreement with the district lists seven reasons for unpaid leave, but none explicitly covers union campaigning.

In any event, the district put a stop to Caputo-Pearl’s school day campaigning.
At the presidential forum last week, where the issue was first made public, Caputo-Pearl defended his school site visits.
“It’s a way to level the playing field [with Fletcher] who is allowed to be out there, talking to teachers everyday,” he said in an interview with LA School Report.
He also said he made all necessary provisions to ensure his students would not be affected. Caputo-Pearl said the district has no right to prevent him from stumping.
“Classroom teachers and health and human service workers are incensed that the District has attacked my contractual and legal right to take unpaid personal leave,” he told LA School Report. “When that is taken away by the District – this is classic management interference in a union election, and a glaring unfair labor practice, which we are pursuing filing.”
Over the last few days, candidates have been raising questions to each other, union officials and the district about what the rules are and how they should be applied — under an apparent false assumption that the candidate’s principal can grant the leave.
Some are are demanding that the union election committee step in and disqualify Caputo-Pearl and other members of the Union Power slate who may have also campaigned during school hours.
And this is what has some candidates up in arms, the idea that if left to the discretion of an administrator, campaigning rules could be applied unevenly, impacting the outcome of a race.
As an example, Laura McCutcheon, a candidate for UTLA treasurer, heard about Caputo-Pearl’s lunch-time meetings with teachers and sought to do the same, according to a collection of emails sent to LA School Report, bearing the the names of UTLA candidates. But her request was apparently turned down by her school principal, according to her email.
It was McCutcheon who first alerted the UTLA elections committee about the apparent irregularities of the policy, setting off a chain of finger pointing and charges of discrimination. A union official confirmed the authenticity of her email.
In her email, McCutcheon referred to LA Unified’s downtown headquarters in messages to several other candidates: “Well, Beaudry deferred to my principal who defers to Beaudry who said no but said up to principal who will put nothing in writing but will not sign my [request]. Uhm.”
Figueroa said McCutcheon’s understanding of the process was incorrect.
The same collection of emails included messages that appear to have been sent by presidential candidate Marcos Ortega II and David Garcia to union officials, each expressing their displeasure over Caputo-Pearl’s actions and threatening to file complaints against the union.
But efforts to reach both of them to confirm the authenticity of the emails were unsuccessful.
Previous Posts: At a UTLA candidate forum, issues break out within the mudslingingIn forum, UTLA president candidates discuss big ideas — and a strike.

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