Alex Caputo-Pearl, the presumptive next president of UTLA, said today that current president Warren Fletcher made the right decision by expressing a willingness to step aside in the race to lead the second largest teachers union in the nation.
“We look forward to the opportunity to expand the base of support behind an approach where UTLA leads the fight for quality schools and respect for educators through powerful organizing and coalition-building,” Caputo-Pearl told LA School Report.
In the recent union election of 10 candidates or president, Caputo-Pearl, head of the left-leaning “Union Power” slate, ran away with first-place in the first round of voting, gathering twice as many votes as Fletcher, even though only a quarter of the membership cast ballots.
As the top vote-getters in the first round, but neither with a majority, they are now competing in a second round of voting.
Candidates in the Union Power group swept the first round, picking up majority wins in nearly every leadership position within UTLA. The shift in Union Power suggests a major change ahead in union strategies and policies. Throughout his campaign Caputo-Pearl advocated for more aggressive actions on behalf of teachers, including a strike to secure a new contract for the union that would include a raise for the first time in seven years.
“We are glad that President Fletcher recognizes that the membership sees the need to move in this direction,” Caputo-Pearl said, adding, “The more we can be united behind this approach, the more successful we will be.”
Fletcher on Sunday told the LA Times he will no longer actively campaign for reelection because “only a fool fights in a burning house.”
In an interview with LA School Report today he expanded: “We are facing a lot of unprecedented outside challenges — attacks on our profession. We are in a situation where we need to make sure that we are as strong as we can be and that’s part of what’s driving the decision on my part.”
If he loses, Fletcher said he’ll return to the classroom.
“It helps that I like teaching,” he said laughing. “Remember, I went to college and studied to be a teacher. This three year period has been the exception and I’m going back to the thing that is my profession.”