Caputo-Pearl asks energetic UTLA rally: ‘Are you ready for a fight?’

The message was clear from United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl as he spoke to hundreds of energetic, amped-up supporters yesterday: If teachers are going to get the raise and other concessions they are demanding from LA Unified in a new contract, it is going to be a fight.

“Now folks, we’ve got to fight for our next victory, and that is to win our contract demands in the Schools LA Students Deserve campaign. And let’s be really clear, folks, that is going to be a fight,” Caputo-Pearl told the crowd.

The teachers union staged five simultaneous rallies around Los Angeles yesterday, including at James Monroe High School in North Hills, in the latest and most significant of the UTLA leadership’s “escalating actions” as it looks to put pressure on the district at the negotiating table. That pressure has included hints at a strike, and the sight of hundreds of teachers dressed in red marching outside a school offered a preview of what that might look like.

The union’s contract demands are outlined in the Schools LA Students Deserve campaign, which includes teacher raises, lower class sizes and an end to “teacher jail.”

Hundreds of teachers turned out at Monroe as they marched up and down Haskell Avenue and Nordoff Street while many drivers in cars passing by honked in support amid the sounds of beating drums, whistles, claps and chants that filled the air. Some UTLA members held signs and flags, including one that provocatively read, “Eight years a slave,” referring to amount of time LA Unified teachers have gone without a raise.

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LA Unified guaranteeing teachers the pay raise already offered

teachers union raise salary UTLA Contract Negotiations LA UnifiedLA Unified said today it has altered its salary offer to teachers by eliminating any contingency on a package that includes raises of 2 percent for this year, 2 percent for next year and 2.5 percent for the year after that.

The district’s previous offer to the union, UTLA, had been with the same percentage increases, provided funds were available.

“The removal of this language is very significant,” Vivian Ekchian, the District’s chief labor negotiator, said in a statement. “It assures our teachers of the District’s long-term commitment to providing them with the compensation they deserve, in addition to sustaining a robust health benefits package for them and their family members.”

The district is still including a 2 percent lump sum payout for last year.

In negotiations last week, the district said subjects discussed covered a range of subjects, including teacher evaluation, student discipline, grievance procedures, teacher transfers, small-learning communities, campus safety, shared-decision making, school-based management and the student records system known as MISIS.

Neither side has reported any agreement on anything.

UTLA adds to contract demands in latest talks with LA Unified

teachers union raise salary UTLA Contract NegotiationsLA Unified and the teachers union, UTLA, met in another bargaining session today, but from the union’s perspective, not much happened to draw the sides closer.

The union announced late this afternoon that it was “rounding out” its list of demands, to include supports for displaced educators, improved UTLA representation for substitute educators facing termination, clean and safe schools, improved grievance procedures to deal with unfair treatment by principals and increased school-based decision-making regarding Breakfast in the Classroom.

As far as salary increases, nothing’s changed. The district is sticking to its offer of 2 percent; the union wants 10 percent.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for December 4.

For Cortines and UTLA, class size reduction is LAUSD priority

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Protesters outside LAUSD headquarters on May 13, 2013. (Credit: UTLA)

* UPDATED

As contract negotiations plod along between LA Unified and the teachers union, UTLA, the issue of class size reduction has taken on a new urgency for Superintendent Ramon Cortines, who plans to shrink the number of students in middle school and high school classrooms by the end of the year.

“I’m not going to tolerate this second semester,” Cortines told LA School Report, before launching into an anecdote about not being able to get through the door of two separate classrooms at Jefferson High School “because they were so crowded.”

“That’s just unacceptable,” he said in frustration.

Teachers have been calling on district leadership to reduce class sizes for years, even as billions of dollars were slashed from the budget and the number of desks per classroom sometimes doubled. It’s been one of UTLA’s core objectives in striking a new deal with the district, a pivotal component of the “Schools LA Students Deserve” platform that President Alex Caputo-Pearl ran on in the recent election.

Data gathered by the district last month shows there are currently more than 1,500 middle school and high school classes enrolling 40 or more students throughout the district. More than 300 enroll 50 or more students. Those figures exclude homeroom, physical education, choir, band and any unfilled sections, all of which tend to be larger in class size.

While 40 sounds like a large number of students for one class, it’s actually within the prescribed ratio of LA Unified classes for non-academic periods in grades 6-through-12 and for academic periods in grades 11 and 12. For academic periods in other grades, the ratios are smaller: 24 to 1 for K-through-3; 30.5 to 1 for grades 4, 5 and some 6; and 34 to 1 for the remaining grade 6-through-10.

Although the data reflecting current ratios comes directly from the district, Lydia Ramos, communications director, explains that “these are very raw numbers” and may contain errors caused by the new student data management system, MiSiS, as well as by unfinished “balancing,” the process of determining how many students are assigned to each teacher.

Still, even ruling out classes that are obviously MiSiS created mistakes — San Pedro Senior High, for instance, appears to enroll 566 students in something called “College Class” — the most notable findings in an analysis of the data by LA School Report include:

  • About 1,100 high school classes enroll 40 or more students, in line with prescribed ratios; more than 300 enroll 50 or more students per class.
  • More than 120 middle school classes enroll more than 35 students, the current target maximum for students in grades 6 to 8.
  • 14 classes show 90 or more students enrolled, most of them in “Advance Conditioning,” which are phys ed or athletics related.
  • Approximately 60 algebra classes — including algebra 1A through algebra 2 — enroll more than 40 students, 30 algebra classes have 46 to 49 students, and six have between 51 and 65. Foshay Learning Center has one class of 71 students.
  • About 87 Advanced Placement courses enroll 40 or more students. Grover Cleveland Charter High School has the biggest class: AP US History with 67 students

UTLA President Caputo-Pearl has called the numbers “shocking,” and told LA School Report, “This is an issue of improving student learning conditions and educator working conditions.”

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UTLA plans 5 rallies as part of National Day of Action

Big Red Tuesday UTLA

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl on “Big Red Tuesday” on Sept. 30, 2014. (Credit: Craig Clough)

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) is planning rallies at five locations on Nov. 20 with the duel purpose of demanding a new contract from the district and to participate in the National Day of Action that is being organized by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools.

UTLA is calling on all of its members to participate in the rallies, using some strong language on its website, which says that “a 35,000 member union can’t win a fight against the corporate parasites lined up against us with anything less than 35,000 members active in the fight.”

The rallies are part of a series of monthly “escalating actions” organized by UTLA’s new leadership as it looks to put pressure on the district in contract negotiations. The union’s demands are outlined in the Schools LA Students Deserve campaign, which includes a demand for teacher raises, lower class sizes and an end to “teacher jail.”

UTLA members have been working on a day-to-day contract since the last one expired in 2011. Since taking office over the summer, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl has ramped up the rhetoric and attempted to put pressure on the district for a new contract through his speeches and the union’s escalating actions. This has included hints at a possible strike, which was evident at the union’s annual leadership conference in September. 

Representatives of the union and district have held several contract bargaining sessions this fall, but are still far apart, with district negotiator Vivian Ekchian saying that the union’s demands would “deal a devastating blow to the district’s educational programs.”

The first escalating action as part of the series was “Big Red Tuesday” on Sept 30, where UTLA members were encouraged to wear ted T-shirts, the official UTLA color. That was followed on Oct. 21 with a press conference outside North Hollywood High School which focused on class sizes, with teachers and supporters around the district encouraged to wear a sticker highlighting their class size and student/teacher ratio.

The locations of the five rallies, which are set to begin at 4 p.m. on Nov. 20, are Narbonne High SchoolBethune Middle School, Hamilton High SchoolMonroe High School and Mariachi Plaza.

The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools is a national organization that includes the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union and is dedicated to fighting the charter school movement, the broad use of standardized testing and connecting test scores with teacher evaluations.

An illness cancels bargaining session with LAUSD, teachers

04The bargaining session scheduled for today between LA Unified and the teachers union, UTLA, has been cancelled, due to an illness of a union staff member, a district official said.

The agenda had included discussions of teacher support and evaluation, parent empowerment and adult education. What was not expected to be part of the dialogue is bridging the gap between the union’s demand of a one-year, 10 percent salary raise and the district’s offer of 2 percent.

The next session will be the previously scheduled meeting on Nov. 14 unless the sides agree to add a make-up session before then. Another meeting is on the books for Dec. 4.

Unions slam LAUSD for ‘English only’ rule for cafeteria workers

espanolTwo unions that represent teachers and support staff at LA Unified schools are calling on the district to rescind its “English only” rule that was issued earlier this month to cafeteria workers at Harvard Elementary, saying the rule sends the wrong message to students and parents,

An “English only” sign was posted in the cafeteria of the Koreatown school a few weeks ago.

Most cafeteria workers there are native Spanish speakers, and 86 percent of students identify as Hispanic, yet the district called the directive a safety issue.

That explanation is falling flat with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), which represents district teachers, and Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represents the cafeteria workers and other district employees like bus drivers and groundskeepers.

“When the majority of cafeteria workers at the school speak Spanish, how is it safer for those workers to communicate only in English in the cafeteria or anywhere on campus?” the unions said in a joint statement. “When a great majority of cafeteria and other service workers live in the communities where they work and are often parents of children attending LAUSD schools, how does an ‘English Only’ policy promote a welcoming school community?”

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Port of LA High faculty seeks to join UTLA after principal resigns

Former Port of Los Angeles High School Principal Tom Scotti. UTLA

Former Port of Los Angeles High School Principal Tom Scotti. (Credit: polahs.net)

After the unexpected resignation of their popular principal left some teachers, students and parents outraged, the faculty at Port of Los Angeles High School has voted to join United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA).

Hundreds of people attended the school’s board meeting on Monday and voiced anger over the resignation Tom Scotti, the principal who left Friday to work for another charter program, according to the Daily Breeze.

Scotti had been with the school since 2005, and his departure was seen by some as a response to his displeasure with the school’s top leadership, while others claimed he was forced out, according to the Daily Breeze.

The Daily Breeze also reported there is widespread discontent among students, parents and teachers with the school’s executive director, James Cross, and the move to join UTLA was in response to Scotti’s departure.

Port of Los Angeles High School is an independent charter school with 59 teachers and faculty. In an open letter to the Port of Los Angeles High School community that was presented to the board on Monday and signed by 86 percent of the faculty, teachers explained the move to join UTLA.

“A union will give us a voice and an integral involvement in our school. Our students deserve teachers who are free to express their opinion and who are active participants in the decisions that directly affect our students,” Spanish teacher Mary Marin wrote in the letter, according to a UTLA press release.

A petition was filed on Tuesday with the California State Public Employment Relations Board seeking recognition of UTLA as their union, and faculty will soon begin collective bargaining over wages, hours and conditions of employment, according to UTLA.  

UTLA represents over 900 teachers at independent charter schools in the Los Angeles area and has over 30,000 total members. 

 

UTLA, AFT demand apology for ‘misleading’ Time magazine cover

Time magazineTime magazine is in hot water with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and other teacher unions over what they say is an unfair and misleading cover.

On its Facebook page, UTLA posted a link to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) online petition that calls for Time to “apologize to America’s teachers for the misleading and hyperbolic attack on your November 3 cover.”

The cover in question is for a story about the impact of Vergara v. California, the case in which a judge earlier this year struck down California’s decades-old laws regarding teacher tenure, firings and layoffs.

The Time article, which features a gavel about to smash an apple on the cover, is headlined, “Rotten Apples: It’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher; some tech millionaires may have found a way to change that,” and is a look at the history of the case and the wealthy group of tech executives who have helped support it. The article has been available online since Friday and is scheduled to hit news stands in print form on Nov. 3.

But it is not the article that the AFT finds fault with. It’s the cover, which the AFT says “is particularly disappointing because the articles inside the magazine present a much more balanced view of the issue. But for millions of Americans, all they’ll see is the cover and a misleading attack on teachers.”

So far, over 60,000 people have signed the petition, according to the AFT’s Facebook page. The AFT has over 1.5 million members.

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LA Unified reiterates: UTLA demands would lead to cutbacks

teachers union raise salary UTLA Contract NegotiationsIn the first contract talks under LA Unified’s new superintendent, Ray Cortines, negotiators for the district and the teachers union, UTLA, hit another snag yesterday as the district reasserted claims that unions demands are unsustainable and would lead to severe cutbacks to key programs, resources, and personnel that would detrimentally impact students.

The union is calling for a 10 percent salary bump for 2014-15, with the expectation of re-opening pay negotiations next year. Smaller class sizes, salary raises and an end to teacher jail are among key components the union is seeking it its new contract.

“Our budget calculations show that the proposal would cost more than $800 million in 2015-16,” said Vivian Ekchian, the district’s Chief Labor Negotiator. “Combined with a projected $365 million deficit next year, agreeing to the union’s proposal would deal a devastating blow to the District’s educational programs.”

The union’s new wage demand exceeds the district’s standing offer of a 6.64 percent salary increase over the next three years plus a one-time 2 percent bonus.

Another topic UTLA returned to during talks yesterday was the issue of “teacher jail.”

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Commentary: Is the L.A. teachers union tone deaf?

Los Angeles Times logoVia Los Angeles Times | By Steve Lopez

It was back-to-school night in August. A time for new beginnings and high hopes at Thomas Starr King Middle School on the Silver Lake/Los Feliz border.

Then came an awkward moment.

With new parents and students in the room, a teachers union rep got up on a soapbox to lay out the labor issues that could lead to a strike.

“He could not have been more tone deaf,” said Tomas O’Grady, a parent who was in the room. “What a stupid thing to do, for a new group of parents excited about this school.”

O’Grady said the speaker is “one of the most amazing teachers at King,” so out of kindness, O’Grady reined him in by suggesting this was not the time or place for a labor rally.

“In an attempt to protect him, I spoke up. Because if it was anyone else, I’ll be honest, it wouldn’t have been to protect him, but to reprimand him.”

Read the full commentary here.

UTLA calls for smaller class sizes at a morning press event

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North Hollywood HS PE teacher Brad Hodge speaks today at a press event about class sizes. (Via UTLA Facebook page)

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl appeared at a press conference today outside North Hollywood High School where he and other speakers focused on the union’s demand for smaller class sizes in its ongoing fight for a new contract.

Caputo-Pearl said that the most fundamental thing the union wants to communicate is “that our students are human beings that deserve personalized attention,” KNX 1070 reported.

The press event came as union and LA Unified officials are set to meet for another contract bargaining session tomorrow, the first since John Deasy resigned as superintendent and was replaced with Ray Cortines on an interim basis.

Smaller class sizes, salary raises and an end to teacher jail are among key components the union is seeking it its new contract, which is outlined in UTLA’s Schools LA Students Deserve campaign.

Students and teachers at North Hollywood High spoke at the press conference and talked about the troubles large class sizes are causing. Ninth grader John Huddleston said his physical education class has over 50 students.

“It takes the teacher so long to take attendance that it truly does cut into our class curriculum time,” said Huddleston, according to KNX.

UTLA said in a statement that thousands of students and teachers around the district were wearing stickers today that highlighted their class size and student/teacher ratios, KNBC reported.

When speaking to LA School Report yesterday, Caputo-Pearl was hesitant to characterize the change in superintendents as a positive or negative in terms of the union’s bargaining position.

“We are looking forward to talking to the interim superintendent about some positive direction about this,” Caputo-Pearl said. “I don’t want to speculate, just whoever the superintendent is, interim or permanent, we are going to continue to bring the issues that are affecting students, schools and educators to the table and we look forward to productive negotiations around that.”

Captuo-Pearl did say that he will continue to aggressively pursue a new contract even though Cortines is an interim superintendent.

“The condition that our schools find themselves in in terms of class size, in terms of schools not having nurses and librarians, educators that have not gotten a pay increase for seven years, that absolutely determines for us that we have got to pursue our Schools LA Students Deserve campaign aggressively,” he said.

Listen to the full report KNX report here:

Cortines on returning to LAUSD a third time: ‘They called my bluff’

ray cortines

Incoming school Supt., Ray Cortines

No one was more surprised that Ray Cortines became the latest LA Unified superintendent than Ray Cortines.

“I hadn’t been planning to return, and I didn’t negotiate with the board,” he told LA School Report today. “The only caveat I put out was that it would have to be a unanimous vote, and I didn’t think it would be. I was taken aback: they called my bluff!”

Cortines, 82, a former school district leader in New York, San Francisco, Pasadena and twice before in Los Angeles, was named today as the interim replacement for the resigning John Deasy – the result of a unanimous vote by the board to bring him back. He served as LA Unified superintendent briefly in 2000, then again from 2009 to 2011, when he retired and one of the deputies he hired, Deasy, succeeded him.

What Deasy leaves to his former mentor is a district with improving student academic metrics but also whirlwinds of problems, not least a teachers union, UTLA, that had a balky relationship with the district under Deasy. These days, the difference in their bargaining positions for a raise in teacher salaries amounts to $188 million a year.

“Ray Cortines has more experience, skill and expertise at running a large urban public school district in the nation and maybe the world,” said board member Steve Zimmer, explaining why the seven board members turned to Cortines. “There simply is no one who could immediately step in and stabilize our district while continuing to build a collaborative trust needed for us to keep our momentum moving forward.”

Cortines said he’s ready to jump in, already with plans for two meetings on Monday, his first official day on the job: a session with the district’s labor negotiating team, followed by a meeting with the union’s counterpart.

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BREAKING NEWS: Deasy expected to step down

 John Deasy, the beleaguered superintendent of LA Unified, the nation’s second-largest school district, is expected to step down as soon as Thursday, according to five district and school board sources with knowledge of the situation.

After weeks of negotiations between lawyers for Deasy and the seven-member board, he submitted his resignation and signed a separation agreement that brings an end to his employment, well before the 30-day grace period he would have had in a case of dismissal by the board, sources told LA School Report.

The district is expected to make the announcement, perhaps as early as tomorrow morning. It is also expected that one of his chief deputies, Michelle King, will be named the interim superintendent while the board begins a search for a permanent replacement. Deasy, who succeeded Ramon Cortines in 2011, is LA Unified’s fourth superintendent since 2000.

The board several weeks ago had authorized its lawyers to begin negotiating a separation agreement with lawyers for Deasy. The final terms of the agreement were reached in the last day or so, with Deasy in South Korea on an cultural visit, said sources, all of whom spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issues and legal restrictions against discussing a private matter.

Deasy was scheduled to return to Los Angeles by the end of this week. He did not attend the most recent board meeting yesterday, which included closed-door discussions of his employment status.

He was unreachable tonight for comment.

Deasy’s resignation after three years as superintendent brings to an end a volatile but productive period in the district with his tenure marked by dramatic improvement in student academic measures yet traumatic developments in programs undertaken by his administration, all at a time budget restraints have limited the district’s ability to support more personnel and programs.

He has made no secret of his growing frustrations with a board that has often been at odds with his approach to public education, more so since the school board elections of 2013 and last August reduced the number of members who supported his vision.

That vision — the belief that quality public education is a civil right — came to include his championing of a program to deliver an iPad to every district student. More than anything else, problems with the iPad distribution came to symbolize the collision between vision and reality, starting a drumbeat for his dismissal.

Nor was he helped by testy relations with the teachers union, UTLA, which has been a steady critic from the start of his tenure, most recently over his unwillingness or inability to raise teacher salaries to levels they are seeking in negotiations for a new contract.

 

 

Teachers, loss of grants, personnel shifts — and MiSiS — played roles in mess at Jefferson, officials say

Jefferson High School Walk outs LAUSD

Students at Jefferson High School stage a walkout to protest scheduling problems on Aug. 25, 2014. (Credit: Vanessa Romo)

The scheduling mess at Jefferson High School emerged for many more reasons than a troubled new computer system, district officials and school administrators told LA School Report today.

Contributing factors included the loss of several key grants, which created a shortage in teachers, money and available class periods; the teachers’ refusal to make scheduling changes and a reshuffling of Jefferson’s administrators just weeks before school started.

“This is definitely not a MiSiS issue,” Tommy Chang, Superintendent of Intensive Support and Innovation Center for LA Unified, said in an interview. “It’s also a master schedule issue. Scheduling issues caused by MiSiS only exacerbated the situation on this campus.”

District officials, teachers and administrators have been meeting for days to craft an action plan to eliminate further disruption at Jefferson. Their result of their collaboration is scheduled to be presented to the district school board when it meets tomorrow.

Jefferson’s daily schedule is almost unique among LA Unified high schools. It includes two teacher conferences a day rather than the more typical one. When Jefferson teachers were given an opportunity earlier this year to vote to change to a more traditional daily schedule, which district officials said would have alleviated many of the problems that have left students with empty class time, they refused. Continue reading

LAUSD says teacher contract demands unaffordable, union disagrees

teachers union raise salary UTLA Contract NegotiationsIn the latest disagreement between contract negotiators for LA Unified and the teachers union, UTLA, the district says the teachers’ latest salary demand would cost way more than the district can afford while the union president charged that the district could afford it, if the district had the right spending priorities.

The new demand of 10 percent a year for one year came last week, superseding the union’s previous demand of 17.6 percent over two years.

Rob Samples, Assistant Director of Labor Relations for LA Unified, said UTLA’s proposal plus its request for an annual stipend of $1,000 per educator to cover out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies, would run about $250 million a year while the annual stipend would cost the district about $43 million per year.

“All together that adds up to $876 million over three years,” he told LA School Report.

In a statement, district officials said that “when combined with other projected deficits, the total impact is at least $1.35 billion over three years.” The statement did not discuss other contributors to the projected deficit.

In any case, the district said, the union demands would force the district to make numerous cuts in other areas in order to pay for the salary proposals.

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Teachers union accepting nominations for House members

UTLA Rally for 8 percent teacher raise LAUSD teachers

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl (left) and former president Warren Fletcher at a recent UTLA rally

The nominating period for United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) House of Representatives is currently open and will last through Nov. 3.

The House of Representatives is a 350 member body that meets eight times a year to debate policy and vote on motions. Any UTLA member in good standing can nominate themselves by filling out a form and delivering it via mail or in person to UTLA’s headquarters at 3303 Wilshire Blvd. 

The form can be found on page 20 of the UTLA’s September newsletter.

If more nominations are received than available seats, UTLA will hold elections.

UTLA highlights contract demands on ‘Big Red Tuesday’

Big Red Tuesday UTLA

United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl

To commemorate “Big Red Tuesday,” United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl used a sidewalk press conference at Thomas Starr King Middle School this morning to outline yet again the union’s contract demands from LA Unified.

UTLA encouraged teachers and supporters all around the district to wear red to campuses, and as he spoke, Caputo-Pearl was flanked by several dozen supporters wearing red clothing, including UTLA-issued garb, sweaters, button-down shirts and even an Anaheim Angels T-shirt. (See the embedded video below for highlights form the press conference.)

“All across the city today, our educators from Chatsworth to the harbor, from the beach to east LA, are in red in a show of unity behind the demands of the Schools LA Students Deserve,” Caputo-Pearl said.

Before turning the podium over to other speakers, Caputo-Pearl outlined the key items the union is seeking in a new contract and in its Schools LA Students Deserve campaign, which includes lower class sizes, more support staff like nurses and librarians and a pay increase for teachers. In his recent State of the Union speech, Caputo-Pearl said “Big Red Tuesday” would be the first of union actions meant to put pressure on the district and Superintendent John Deasy as the union looks to project unity during contract negotiations.

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UTLA plans ‘Big Red Tuesday’ and monthly ‘escalating actions’

UTLA big red tuesdayAs part of a plan to increase pressure on LA Unified as it negotiates for a new contract, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) is planning monthly “actions” to take place on campuses around the district.

In preparation for the actions, which are to begin in October, UTLA is dubbing Tuesday, Sept. 30 as “Big Red Tuesday,” when union members are all being encouraged to wear red clothing as a sign of unity.

In his recent State of the Union speech, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl outlined the idea behind Big Red Tuesday.

“It seems small, but [LA Unified Superintendent John] Deasy will ask his administrators — you best believe he will — to count the shirts to measure our resolve. And when they see them from the harbor to Chatsworth, and East LA to the beach, it’s going to send a message to our networks of communication and our resolve across the city,” Caputo-Pearl said.

Sept. 30 also happens to be the same day the school board is meeting in a closed-door session to discuss Deasy’s upcoming annual review.

Red is one of the official colors of UTLA and many of its T-shirts are printed in red. The organization has often encouraged members to wear red when taking part in a protest or gathering, as it did in 2010 when members staged a protest outside of the Los Angeles Times.

Caputo-Pearl also told the crowd to “[k]eep your eye out for the first of a series of monthly escalating actions starting in October at school sites.”

Details on what the October action might entail have not been released by UTLA. Earlier this week, the union issued a press release that covered Big Red Tuesday and the October action but gave no more details than the hints Caputo-Pearl dropped in his speech. The release did encourage parents and community members to wear red on Sept. 30 to “show Deasy and LAUSD that we are united in our fight for Schools LA Students Deserve.”

UTLA and LA Unified are meeting periodically over a new contract, but the two sides remain far apart.

 

Teachers union hiring 6 in ‘groundbreaking’ plan to organize

Alex Caputo-Pearl at a news conference teachers union

Alex Caputo-Pearl, President of UTLA

During his first State of the Union speech at the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) leadership conference last week, President Alex Caputo-Pearl promised that the union was “gearing up for this fight” as he works to negotiate a new contract with LA Unified.

Near the end of his remarks, as if to prove he wasn’t just talking tough, he announced that UTLA is hiring six new people in leadership positions as part of an internal restructuring made possible through a cost-sharing agreement with state and national teachers unions.

Caputo-Pearl described the cost-sharing agreement as “groundbreaking.” The organizations participating in the agreement are the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA), the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and the California Teachers Association (CTA).

“We went to our state and national affiliates…and we said to them that everything is affected by what happens in LA across the state, across the country,” Caputo-Pearl said at the conference. “We asked them because of this, our affiliates invest in UTLA and invest in our strategic vision. To invest to help us organize to win key things for our schools, educators and communities, to shape the national debate and to move forward a conversation about UTLA’s long-term stability.”

Caputo-Pearl said UTLA has already hired four people as part of the new agreement and is looking soon to hire a political director and a strategic researcher. The four recent hires are Jeff Good as Executive Director, Brian McNamara as Field Director, Esperanza Martinez, as a community organizer, and Sharon Delugach, who works directly for AFT as a parent coordinator but will now be dedicating three quarters of her time to working with UTLA, according to Caputo-Pearl.

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