Thursday, January 24, 2019

UTLA Strike - First Reactions - Praise and Contrarian Views

Los Angeles: Contract Approved by Union, by 81%
Leonie's immediate reaction:
Depending on the details, this looks like a terrific victory for the union and most importantly, for Los Angeles public school students....Here is my previous explanation of how the district's excessive class sizes were a central issue in the strike and central to the union's concerns....
Sami, Rami Malek twin
Class size has once again become a focus of national attention as a result of the week-long strike. See for example, last Saturday's SNL segment, where Kenan Thompson one and half minutes in says, "Teachers don't gain paid enough, class sizes are too big". Or the photo posted a few days ago by Oscar-nominate actor Rami Malek  of his twin brother, Sami, an LAUSD teacher dressed as a cowboy, holding a sign saying "Wanted: smaller class sizes; Reward: higher student achievement." 
.......Leonie Haimson, LA strike tentatively settled with national implications; here's how to counter myths of the class size deniers
I just saw Bohemian Rhapsody yesterday and Sami's brother Rami is great and may win the Academy Award. Sami wins for best sign.

There's almost universal praise for the strike outcome especially from the social justice caucuses who are allies of Union Power, the UTLA leadership. Any movement on class size is major. One of the under reported stories is that the UTLA leadership, including the current one, for decades has signed off on allowances for class size violations and the big victory here is that they have eliminated that.
But I interpret that as building their power in the schools and communities to a point where they had the ability to kill this open spigot on class sizes.

Almost universal praise.

Hmmm - in the UFT it was 87% overall approval. And I saw a opposition people saying this was a "soft" 87%, claiming many people held their noses and voted for it. And MORE focused on the justifiably bad deal for OT/PTs. I don't know if there are different voting segments in LA.

No holding noses and voting to end a strike in LA. Keep an eye on how the social justice reporting heaps praise on LA while attacking the UFT's "business" model unionism. Don't expect honest assessments anywhere -- well, maybe here. Watch MORE's reports especially and do a comparison of where UFT and UTLA members stand in terms of guidance, nurses -- both seem to be pretty bad here - and librarians -- I don't think so great in the UFT.

I'm always interested in contrarian views so I can get some balance. The Reformies who opposed the strike - they control the school board and the Supt - are mulling over their reactions. (See below).

The ultra -left has been attacking UTLA leaders throughout, claiming Alex was selling them out all along and that this deal was fundamentally decided before the strike. I believe the 6% was. And as you will see below the charter stuff is not much. So it comes down to class size, nurses, guidance and librarians? I look forward to more analysis. The Unity Caucus defenders will whisper behind the scenes (they are officially allies and supporters of UTLA) about how much better our contract is. (I wonder how OT/PTs fare in UTLA.)

Here are links to 2 pieces on the World Socialist Web Site -- I used to laugh at some of their stuff but one of their members was an active UFT member and now retired but he was handing out their leaflet at the DA last week and they set up a table across the street from the DA.

Los Angeles teachers denounce UTLA betrayal of strike

By our reporters, 23 January 2019
The conspiracy by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and the Democratic Party to ram through a new contract to end the six-day strike by 33,000 educators provoked widespread anger from teachers.

Union rams through deal to end Los Angeles teachers strike

By Jerry White, 23 January 2019
Before educators had time to study the deal, the United Teachers Los Angeles rushed through a vote that ignores teachers’ demands for improved wages and school funding and lower class sizes.
This was comment of theirs made me laugh out loud - DSA - of course is a broadbased group - but ISO is not left enough for WWSI.
The betrayal of the Los Angeles strike is a damning indictment of the pseudo-left groups, including the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the International Socialist Organization (ISO), which provide the unions with a “left” cover. Caputo-Pearl is part of the “Union Power” faction of the UTLA bureaucracy, which spouts phrases about “social justice unionism” and fighting “institutional racism.” Caputo-Pearl’s counterparts in the “Caucus of Rank and File Educators” in Chicago sabotaged the 2012 strike, paving the way for the shutdown of scores of schools. ISO leader Jesse Sharkey, who sold out the strike, now heads the CTU.
ISO and DSA are in total control of MORE at this point but MORE is so inconsequential with no chance of winning as they did in LA and Chicago, it is not worth attacking them as "being pseudo left." Actually, there's a germ of truth in that -- faux left with lots of rhetorical flourishes.

WWSI does raise points about transparency and the quick ratification process in LA:
Teachers were given only a few hours to read the 40-page agreement before they were forced to vote on the deal later in the evening. Prior to that, the union and the district officials had been engaged in closed-door negotiations for five days during which time no details were revealed to teachers.
There is a reality here in the speed of a vote to get people back to work but I imagine they could have gone back while people had a few days to review the contract.

The UFT contract ratification requires the Ex Bd, the DA and the membership ratify. But this process also gives the leadership time to sell the contract.

How much did MORE attack the UFT leadership over the way it managed the recent contract vote? You will see only praise for the UTLA and MORE will undoubtedly use the outcome of the strike in the election campaign to point to the UFT's dormant membership.

You also hear attacks on UTLA over transparency - of course they had to have secret negotiations. But we hear the UFT always attacked on its own lack of transparency on contracts. I don't know enough about the negotiation process to judge.

I was interested in what might have been won on the charter issue, which the ultra-left had claimed was dropped from demands and was only out there publicly as a PR stunt.

But I disagree -- even if they didn't get anything much they made it an issue that garnered public attention and focused people on the way charters drain public education.

Did UTLA Get Real Gains on Charter School Issue? Or just consultation on co-loco issues?

Here is what I assume is a biased report from an pro-charter reformy group which is putting the best face on anything UTLA might have won, which seems to be that chapter leaders need to be "consulted" on charter co-locos.
4. Charter accountability
The agreement invests in “existing schools” and would increase accountability and regulations for charter schools, Caputo-Pearl said. This has been a central talking point for union leadership, who say charter schools are channeling millions of dollars annually away from L.A. Unified.
Caputo-Pearl said the pending agreement would give district neighborhood schools “a voice” in the co-location process, which is when charter schools are allotted unused classroom space on traditional school campuses under state law.
The tentative contract adds these provisions, but it does not give the union veto power over co-locations.
  • Every time a charter visits a district school to scope out a co-location opportunity, a UTLA chapter chair would have to be invited to participate
  • By Dec. 1 and Feb. 1 every year, L.A. Unified would have to send UTLA a list of all campuses that have been identified for possible co-location
  • UTLA would have the right to designate one employee to serve as a “co-location coordinator” on every campus with a co-located charter school
L.A. Unified will work “to strengthen the voice of educators and provide more opportunities for collaborations for all who work in our schools,” Beutner said.
Now here is the anti-union right wing press from Mike Antoncci who will do an in-depth soon, which we will run though our filter. Mike warns that a coming economic crisis will shred much of what was agreed to.

Antonucci: So it’s over

Mike Antonucci | January 22, 2019,

L.A. Unified and United Teachers Los Angeles reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. There will be plenty of analysis from all quarters on the details in the days and weeks to come, but for now we can all agree on one thing.
It had to happen this way.
The strike had to happen because without it the district would not have made the concessions it did. What made that happen wasn’t the direct effect of the strike on Superintendent Austin Beutner and the school board, but on L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, the county Office of Education, Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state legislature.
L.A. Unified’s finances are a legitimate mess, so what Beutner needed was reassurance that the city, county and state wouldn’t let a more generous deal sink the district. Persuaded that there would be no takeover of the district and that proposed money in the governor’s budget will become actual money, Beutner bent far enough to reach an agreement.
The strike had to happen because UTLA was not going to accept a deal without one. The strike was in the works for more than two years, even though career educator Michelle King was superintendent. UTLA invested lots of money and staff time into assuring the rank-and-file supported a strike. The authorization vote was overwhelming. Agreeing to anything less than a perfect deal prior to a walkout would have led to internal union turmoil. Had this exact tentative agreement been offered two weeks ago, the union would have rejected it.
UTLA brought pressure through marches, rallies and the fact that up to 81 percent of the district’s normal enrollment of 450,000 students stayed home.
L.A. Unified brought pressure by keeping the schools open, which meant that striking teachers were losing pay each day they stayed out — something that isn’t always the case.
Teachers lost 1.5 percent to 3 percent of their pay during the strike, depending on whether you compute it for a calendar year or a school year.
The district endured a net loss of $150 million in state funding due to the decreased attendance.
Students lost six days of instruction, probably a bit more since it will take some time to get things back to normal.
All parties declare this a victory — and will devote considerable resources to promote that view with the public. It may well turn out that way, if the economy continues to grow and tax revenues don’t falter.
If there is a downturn or a recession, or even a continued decline in enrollment, the rosy assumptions that made this deal possible will weigh like an anchor on district operations and staffing. All those teachers, counselors and nurses that are about to be hired will be the first laid off, thanks to seniority provisions. To avoid that, UTLA members may have to make considerable financial sacrifices.
If you think that can’t possibly happen, well, I’m sure those who went on strike in 1989 felt the same way.
Regardless of the way it pans out, both UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl and (probably) L.A. Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner will be elsewhere by then. A new group of people will have to hash out future disputes, and we can all pretend that this month’s events didn’t lead us there.
And of course let's get to our fave union leader:

AFT President Randi Weingarten Reacts to Tentative Agreement for Los Angeles Teachers
LOS ANGELES—Members of United Teachers Los Angeles are voting tonight on an agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District, following a historic six-day strike in the second-largest school district in the country. The LAUSD school board will do the same. Below is a statement from American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:
“The agreement is a paradigm shift for the city and nation, as it makes a clear commitment to the resources and conditions necessary for teachers to teach and kids to learn in L.A.’s public schools. In addition to a 6 percent pay raise for the two-year agreement, it provides nurses in every school five days a week, lowers class size over the next several years, ensures school counselors for every 500 students, commits to new community schools and provides a process to cap charter schools. UTLA has endorsed the agreement, and if the response at today’s rally is a bellwether, the union’s more than 30,000 members will ratify it.

“This strike and the community support of the teacher strikers flipped the debate over public education in L.A. on its head. And the result is nothing short of a sea change for public schools and for educators in L.A. and in the country.

“With the support of parents, students, clergy and the entire union community, L.A.’s teachers helped inspire a reordering of the city’s priorities to finally put public schools first. And it took a strike to make the establishment see how much the public is really behind public schools and public school teachers.

“For the last 10 years, the political forces in Los Angeles haven’t valued public schools, nor respected the people who teach in them. But now, instead of fixating on testing, competition and accountability, these educators have focused a city—indeed an entire country—on the teaching and learning conditions our kids need.

“Every child has hopes, dreams and aspirations. But those aspirations don’t just happen simply because you wish for them—you need the power to secure the investment to fulfill them. This was a fight for the soul of public education. It was a fight to invest in public schools after decades of neglect, and while one contract can’t fix everything, this is a starting point. Teachers want what kids need, and today in Los Angeles, because of this struggle, teachers got a big step closer to securing what our kids need.”

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