Analysis: LA Unified still waiting for an opener from UTLA

UTLA logoConspicuous by their absence from last week’s school board meeting were representatives from UTLA, the teachers union, discussing a new contract.

While many of the labor partners who work with LA Unified have begin contract talks or submitted their opening proposals, UTLA has maintained radio silence. At least, that’s how it appears to the public.

The only outward suggestions that union officials have been thinking about their demands was President Warren Fletcher’s pronouncement that he wants a 17.6 percent raise for his teachers, who have been without a contract for quite a few years.

Two problems here: One, the union never stipulated whether the demand is for one year, three years or 17 years. Two, Fletcher is a lame duck, who’s three-year term in office ends June 30.

As the in-coming chief, Alex Caputo-Pearl can’t do anything officially until he assumes power on July 1. Meanwhile, he has been meeting privately with school board members, presumably to exchange ideas of what’s possible in a new contract.

There has been lots of talk that recent improving economic conditions could mean a windfall for the union. The state is sending more money to the district through local control funding, another $1 billion or so over the next seven years. The biggest chunk comes right away, 28 percent, with smaller amounts over the succeeding years.

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JUST IN: Caputo-Pearl wins decisively for UTLA president

Mr. President: Alex Caputo-Pearl Photo--LA Times

Mr. President: Alex Caputo-Pearl
Photo–LA Times

UPDATED*

Alex Caputo-Pearl was declared the new UTLA president today as he overwhelmed incumbent Warren Fletcher in the second-round of voting, the LA teachers union announced today.

After outpolling Fletcher 2-1 in the first round, Caputo-Pearl beat him by more than 4-to-1 in the runoff, with 5,801 votes (80.18 percent) to Fletcher’s 1,434 (19.82 percent).

In a statement to LA School Report, Caputo-Pearl congratulated Fletcher on his “very important and continuing service to UTLA” and thanked him for his “gracious approach to this election.”

“With the Union Power team sweeping this election, UTLA members have given its leadership a mandate for our union to lead in the fight for the schools LA students deserve and the respect LA educators deserve,” he said.

“The mandate is for an approach that builds power through aggressive organizing of the membership and organizing of broad coalitions with parents and community to more effectively fight for class size reduction, staffing for safe, clean, well-rounded schools, the pay increase educators deserve, and more – and it equips us to fight against LAUSD’s cynical teacher jails and the broader climate of fear and school destabilization they promote.”

In a statement issued by the union, Fletcher congratulated Caputo-Pearl and said, “Now, more than ever before in our organization’s history, the teachers and Health and Human Services professionals of Los Angeles must speak in a united voice. Now that our election is completed, we will all join together to support Alex and his team as we continue to fight for the quality public schools that our students deserve.”

The union said the voting result is pending challenge and must be certified by the UTLA board to be official. All new officers and the board of directors take office on July 1 and will serve a three-year term through June 30, 2017.

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Analysis: Just what does Caputo-Pearl’s first-round victory mean?

Caputo-Pearl at the podium; Fletcher, on the right

Caputo-Pearl at the podium; Fletcher, on the right

The first round of the UTLA elections produced two stunning results.

One: For the first time in recent memory, a political faction within the union — Union Power — has gained near total control of the union. In a field of 10 candidates for president, Alex Caputo-Pearl out-polled his nearest competitor, incumbent Warren Fletcher, by a 2-to-1 margin — a runoff is now underway — and Union Power candidates won outright nearly every other union leadership position.

Two: Not that many people cared. In a turning-point election, barely a quarter of UTLA’s 31,000 members bothered to vote.

The combination is a real head scratcher because it makes entirely ambiguous just what members were saying if they were saying anything at all. Even Fletcher bowed to the inevitable, announcing he would no longer actively campaign for another term.

On the one hand, the true believers lined up behind a change agent and his deep bench of compatriots with a lengthy platform that included a focus on raises and the end of teacher jails.

On the other, a silent majority declared they have enough on their hands, with crowded classrooms, curriculum changes and the challenge of providing the best for kids with the least.

It’s as if most teachers, feeling beaten down and demoralized over so many years, considered the options — more of the same under Fletcher or new activism under Union Power — and decided, “Yeah, whatever.”

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Caputo-Pearl: Fletcher made right decision, stepping aside

Warren Fletcher

Warren Fletcher

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.”

UTLA raises may be on the horizon but not negotiations

Vivian Ekchian, LA Unifie'd chief labor negotiator

Vivian Ekchian, LA Unifie’d chief labor negotiator

Within LA Unified’s proposed budget for 2014-2015, Superintendent John Deasy includes a line item for teacher raises.

However, in the absence of a contract for the last three years between the district and the teachers union, United Teachers of Los Angeles, labor talks remain at a complete standstill, raising questions about just how much remains “TBD.”

“Neither UTLA nor the District has initiated negotiations for any re-opener or successor agreements at this time,” Vivian Ekchian, chief labor negotiator for LA Unified, told LA School Report.  

Teachers are working on a temporary contract. UTLA’s last agreement with the district ended in 2011, and Ekchian says their contract is extended on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s difficult to estimate a timeline with an ending date, but it certainly will be very sensitive to the needs of our employees,” Ekchian said.

UTLA is seeking a 17.6 percent salary increase over an unspecified amount of time, though the average contract lasts three years.

“It’s been more than a year since California voters approved Proposition 30, the tax increase that is bringing millions of new dollars into the District,” UTLA said in a statement shortly after voting for the salary boost.

The state’s new school Local Control Funding Formula is also generating hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue over the next seven years.

Union members last received a cost of living increase in 2007. They also agreed to 16 furlough days throughout the recession, with “each day equaling about half a percent of pay,” according to UTLA President Warren Fletcher.

Deasy, yesterday, thanked all district employees for their “sacrifices” during the budget crisis.

After walking the school board through his budget, he added, “Many employees have not had raises in six to seven years and it’s important to address that.”

UTLA sends out ballots in runoff for president

UTLA-Union-Election-GraphicBallots were dropped in the mail today to the 35,000 members of the Los Angeles teachers union (UTLA), to decide who will win the top job of the second largest teachers union in the country, in a second-round runoff.

It’s down to two candidates from the original field of ten: between current president Warren Fletcher, considered a moderate, and left-leaning candidate Alex Caputo-Pearl. Pearl not only pulled in twice the votes of Fletcher in the first round (although not the 50 percent needed to prevent a run-off), but made a clean sweep with his slate called Union Power, claiming a win for almost every internally elected seat which included dozens of positions.

(See list of Union Power endorsements, here. See full list of the results from the first round, here.)

In this runoff, which ends when members send their ballots in at the end of April, there are just three seats up for grabs: UTLA president, Valley East Area Chair and Valley West Area Chair.

While only a quarter of the members participated in the first round, interest could pick up as it did in 2011 when Warren Fletcher came from behind to beat his opponent Julie Washington in the runoff.

‘Union Power’ wins big but most UTLA members didn’t vote*

UITLA's election drew only 23 percent of the membership

UITLA’s election drew only 23 percent of the membership

UTLA is headed in a new direction —  mostly veering to the left.

Despite a low turnout, Union Power candidates claimed victory today, with wins in nearly every leadership position within UTLA, the nation’s second-largest teachers union.

The progressive group — which plans to call for a strike if a new teacher contract can’t be negotiated soon — won outright in races for NEA Affiliate vice president, AFT Affiliate vice president, Elementary VP, Secondary VP, Treasurer, and Secretary. The race for President will be decided in a run-off pitting Union Power leader, Alex Caputo-Pearl, against incumbent Warren Fletcher.

“This shows that our members want UTLA to pro-actively and assertively fight against the attacks on the profession, while fighting for a clear vision of quality schools that we build through aggressive organizing with members, parents, and community,” Caputo-Pearl said in a statement.

Although he fell short of getting 51 percent of votes in the first round, Caputo-Pearl says he’s confident he’ll come out on top in the end.

“The organizing that led to these successes today,” he said, “will propel us to victory in the fight for a pay increase, for class size reduction and increases in staffing, against teacher jail, and around all of the other issues that are critical in public education today.”

Fletcher received fewer than half the votes Caputo-Pearl captured. He responded to the news in a statement, saying, “The results of the first round of the UTLA election were fairly unambiguous. The voting membership has decisively signaled the desire for a change in direction. To assert otherwise would be to deny an obvious reality.”

“I am confident that UTLA, whether under Mr. Caputo-Pearl’s leadership or mine, will move forward into the next three years with the common goal of fighting for what is best for students, for schools, and for the classroom,” he added.

John Lee, Senior Executive Director of Teach Plus in Los Angeles, told LA School Report that Union Power “was clearly the best organized among the different groups,” evidenced by their ability to get the endorsement of more than 250 UTLA chapter chairs. Continue reading

Caputo-Pearl, Fletcher moving on to runoff in UTLA election

Alex Caputo-Pearl

Alex Caputo-Pearl

All that criticism of Warren Fletcher as a weak UTLA president and of Alex Caputo-Pearl as a campaign rules scofflaw apparently didn’t make much difference.

They emerged as the top two vote-getters for the president of United Teacher Los Angeles in the first round of voting in the union’s 2014 election campaign and are now headed to a runoff. The survivor wins a three-year term.

While Caputo-Pearl, head of the left-leaning “Union Power” slate, ran away with first-place, collecting 3,408 votes (48%), Fletcher came in second with 1,508 votes (21.2%), and not far behind was Gregg Solkovits, the current secondary vice president, who had 1,142 votes (16%).

Bill Gaffney led the remaining candidates with 323 votes.

170460.ME.0209.Miramonte.IK

Warren Fletcher, current president of UTLA

Only 7,099 votes were cast for the 10 men running for president, representing 22 percent of the 31,000 member union. voting members.

The results are pending challenges and must be certified by the UTLA Board to be official. A challenge is likely – opponents have accused Caputo-Pearl of violating union election rules by campaigning during school hours without permission. (Read story here).

Superintendent John Deasy tells LA School Report that the principal who gave Alex Caputo-Pearl permission to take unpaid time off to campaign has been disciplined. The LA Times reports that Caputo-Pearl is facing discipline for taking a leave of absence to campaign. (Read story here).

The union said ballots for the runoff will be mailed out on April 7. Only the race for the presidency is going to a runoff. For all other offices and positions, winners had a majority vote. Once all election cycles are complete, the new Officers and Board of Directors members take office July 1, 2014, and will serve until June 30, 2017.

Complete election results can be found here.

Garcia, UTLA candidate for president, fired as LAUSD sub

UTLA-Union-Election-GraphicThe field of candidates for UTLA president may be reduced by one.

David Garcia, one of nine men challenging the incumbent, Warren Fletcher, has been dismissed as an LA Unified teacher, putting his candidacy in limbo.

Garcia confirmed his firing in an email circulated on Friday and blamed it on his challenging the district on an issue involving other candidates’ being able to campaign during school hours. A district official in the human resources division confirmed the dismissal.

But whether that means Garcia must withdraw as a candidate remains uncertain.

Mike Dreebin, co-chair of the UTLA Election Committee, said in an email that Garcia was an eligible candidate as of the deadline to submit nomination forms and the committee has no confirmation yet that Garcia was fired.

No immediate action would be taken, he explained, because Garcia still has several options, including the right to file a grievance with UTLA and seek legal action against the district.

Dreebin said if Garcia makes it into a runoff for president, “the matter will be dealt with then.”

“Ultimately,” he wrote, “it will be up to the UTLA Board of Directors to determine what to do if a candidate wins, but has been fired and is no longer an employee of the District. The Board of Directors formally ‘seats’ new Officers, and Board of Director representatives, after the results of the elections are presented to them by the UTLA Elections Committee.”

The district did not immediately respond to an effort to learn why Garcia, a substitute, was fired.

Previous post: Deasy says principal who ok’d campaign leave was disciplined

Deasy says principal who ok’d campaign leave was disciplined

Superintendent John Deasy

Superintendent John Deasy

LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy said a principal who gave Alex Caputo-Pearl permission to take unpaid time off to campaign for president of the teachers union, UTLA, has been disciplined.

The action came in response to accusations that the leave, a violation of district’s contract with UTLA, provided Caputo-Pearl an unfair advantage over other candidates by allowing him to campaign during school hours.

Caputo-Pearl is one of nine men challenging Warren Fletcher, who is seeking a second three-year term.

“First neither I nor any administrator at Beaudry approved any leave for Mr. Caputo-Pearl or any other UTLA candidate. I believe his principal may have done such,” Deasy said in an email. “A letter was sent to Mr. Fletcher notifying him of the situation. And the principal has been disciplined. The letter further clarified that our interpretation (long standing) of the contract was that such a practice is prohibited.”

While Caputo-Pearl defended his campaigning, pointing to Fletcher’s ability to do the same as the incumbent, the district finally ordered him to stop.

Yet as tomorrow’s deadline approaches for UTLA members to mail in their ballots for elective positions this year, accusations of cheating persist.

Several of the candidates for president have suggested that Deasy granted Caputo-Pearl permission as a way to influence the election — never mind that Caputo-Pearl has been as critical as any candidate of Deasy and his policies.

No candidate has focused more attention on the issue than David Garcia, whose campaign is aimed at rooting out “corruption” by ousting Fletcher and all who serve with him.

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Tensions rise as UTLA candidate take on issues, each other

caputo pearl garcia

David Garcia (left), Alex Caputo-Pearl
Candidates for President of UTLA

Tensions deepened last night among the candidates running for the top job at United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) as one of them came close to a physical confrontation with another after the event ended.

Hosted by the teacher advocacy group, Educators4Excellence, at City Hall in Boyle Heights, the event played before a crowd of about 60 teachers, activists, students and community members dining on Subway sandwiches.

E4E members Bianca Sanchez and Jeff Austin moderated four questions to the 10 candidates — all male — running to lead the second largest union in the nation.

Friction was most evident between David Garcia, a substitute teacher, and Alex Caputo-Pearl, who is running at the top of a slate called “Union Power,” over Caputo-Pearl’s recent campaign appearances at LA Unified schools. Garcia angrily accused Caputo-Pearl of violating union election rules and misusing his ties to LAUSD. After the forum, the two nearly got into an altercation, as Garcia swatted at Caputo-Pearl before being restrained.

Other candidates, like Saul Lankster, agreed with Garcia’s accusations, saying that the school district is “giving Caputo-Pearl all the answers to the test since he has had unfettered access to all schools since September.”

The district has said Caputo-Pearl did not file proper paperwork for the unpaid leave, but he has not been disciplined.

“We have to accept fact that this is a very specialized election and the district has made its vote,” Lankster continued as a few crowd members clapped and hooted.

Such issues are why E4E hosted the forum, as the previous debates have often spiraled off topic and were rooted in rhetoric and personal attacks, according to E4E Executive Director Ama Nyamekye.

“There is too much at stake here in LAUSD and UTLA not to ask our candidates to squarely tackle tough policy issues,” she said. “We need to refocus the debate in this election.”

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Teachers union plans leaflet push for raises, smaller classes

UTLA logoThe Los Angeles teachers union, UTLA, is planning to blanket the district with leaflets tomorrow to build support among parents for smaller class sizes, fully staffed schools and raises.

With help from health and human services workers, teachers intend to pass out informational leaflets before and, in some cases, after school.

The leaflets ask parents to contact LA Unified board members to push for using new tax dollars in the classroom.

“Students and LAUSD employees all suffered during the recession years,” UTLA President Warren Fletcher said in a statement. Now that the District has the money, it’s time to right some wrongs. It is wrong when school librarians are laid off and campus libraries are closed; when schools do not have a full time nurse; and when there are not enough mental health professionals to serve student needs. It’s wrong when schools are unsanitary and unsafe.”

 

 

 

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.

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UTLA candidates hit YouTube with stump speeches

Screen shot 2014-02-21 at 11.11.08 AMWith ballots going in the mail next week, Los Angeles area teachers will start a long, internal election process that could have a big impact on the future of the teachers union (UTLA), one of the most powerful in the country.

The competition for the top job of UTLA president, which pays north of $100,000 a year, is tough. There are nine challengers (see our rundown here) hoping to prevent the incumbent president Warren Fletcher from taking a second term.

To help members decide, UTLA has posted brief campaign video statements on a YouTube channel, not only for president, but for all of the union positions in contention.

For those who would rather read about the candidates, the special election edition of the union newspaper, the United Teacher, has printed candidate statements and ballot instructions.

Previous Posts: UTLA candidate forum, issues break out within the mudslingingIn forum, big ideas — and a strike,  In race to run powerful teachers union: ideology up for grabs

UTLA candidates debate big issues — including idea of a strike

Coming our way?

Coming our way?

Presidential candidates in the race to lead the United Teachers of Los Angeles faced tough questions and a rowdy audience last night, in the second forum of the campaign season.

It was the first time all 10 candidates — Alex Caputo-Pearl, the incumbent Warren FletcherBill GaffneyDavid Garcia, Saul LanksterKevin MottusMarcos Ortega II, Innocent OsunwaLeonard Segal and Gregg Solkovitz — have participated in such an event, drawing a modest audience of about 45 people at Monroe High School in the Valley.

Unlike the forum last month, during which the candidates spent most of their time discussing disfunction within the union, this meeting was all about the big issues: (finally) negotiating a salary increase and improving UTLA’s relationships with LA Unified administration and the school board

On the question of a pay raise, nearly all candidates agreed, a strike may be necessary.

“We need to organize our schools and give the district our demands but if they’re not receptive, we go on strike,” Solkovitz said. “We should have been doing this since March.”

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In race to run powerful teachers union: ideology up for grabs

UTLA graphicAs campaigning begins in earnest at United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the second-largest teachers union in the country, the election for the presidency could be as much about ideology as which candidate has more foot-soldiers.

The union has shown signs of deep fracture lately, and with just 20 percent of the union’s 35,000 members expected to vote, the winner’s message will have to capture the votes of just a couple thousand teachers, in a long and drawn out process that begins on Feb. 25, and might not end until spring.

At the same time, with the union facing declining enrollment and revenue, the race is set to highlight a debate raging about its role, goals and tactics: should it stick to bread and butter issues of pay and contracts, or expand its mission to tackle race and equity? How confrontational should it be?

At this early juncture, 10 candidates, all of them men, are vying for attention in the first round of balloting (see ballot order here). Here’s a snapshot look at them:


 

170460.ME.0209.Miramonte.IKWarren Fletcher

As current president of UTLA, Fletcher has both the advantages and disadvantages of the incumbency. He’s become the target of left-leaning activists who see him as too moderate and unwilling use tactics like strikes and protests.

But at the first presidential candidate forum, Fletcher defended his leadership, saying that members are better off today than they were when he took office. As achievements, he pointed to furlough days being eliminated, the district’s putting a stop to annual RIF cycles, and that both Adult and Early Education were saved from complete elimination. He also pointed to the cap placed on the Public School Choice program (which allowed failing schools to be reconstituted as charters), and how he campaigned on behalf of two school board members – Steve Zimmer and Monica Ratliff – against reform backed candidates. He’s advocated for a pay hike and pressed the district to rehire teachers.

In 2011, Fletcher defeated seven other candidates and prevailed in a runoff, succeeding A.J. Duffy. Previously he has served on UTLA’s Board of Directors and in the House of Representatives. He started with LAUSD in 1978 as a teachers’ assistant and became a classroom teacher in 1983.


 

caputo_pearlAlex Caputo-Pearl
Well positioned as a formidable Fletcher opponent, Alex Caputo-Pearl is running at the top of a slate called “Union Power” – that includes seven colleagues running for other down-ballot positions.

Caputo-Pearl represents a faction within UTLA that is clamoring to push the union to the left. The platform includes social equity issues, creating a “credible threat of a strike”; a pushback on Breakfast in the Classroom; and a double digit salary increase. Caputo-Pearl told LA School Report last year that current leadership is “overwhelmingly defensive and reactive … taking things issue by issue,” and that’s not “going to help build quality schools.”

To strengthen UTLA’s leverage, Caputo-Pearl says he will develop a coalition branch and a communications department and will cultivate a team of researchers and experts “to frame the debate” on big issues like the Common Core.

Caputo-Pearl is currently a member of the UTLA Board of Directors and a teacher at Frida Kahlo High School. He spent more than half of his 22 years of teaching at Crenshaw High School, where he started the Coalition for Educational Justice. As a vocal opponent of reconstituting Crenshaw after it was found to be failing by the district, he was not rehired by the new administration. Website: unionpower2014.org


 

greggsolkovitsGregg Solkovits
Now in his second term as UTLA Secondary Vice-President, Solkovits is well known figure within the union – his mother served as UTLA president starting in 1979, and he has held numerous leadership roles within UTLA.

Solkovits is seen as a moderate, and talks about trying to find new voices and ideas from union membership. “There are a lot of younger teachers, people with divergent points of view,” he tells LA School Report. “We need to listen to them.” On his website he says he will “appoint a diverse body of activists to propose changes to position UTLA for the fights of the future.”

At the first candidate forum, Solkovits argued it’s time to update UTLA’s governing structures and constitution. “The constitution was written in 1969 . . . and it sets up a system where there are a lot of chiefs without much input from average members.”
“I would get rid of it, rewrite it, and make it easier to pass motions.”
The position Solkovits is vacating to run for president will be the only open seat. Solkovits has been an LA Unified high school teacher for 28 years.
Website: gsolkforutlapresident.com


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UTLA schedules two forums for president candidates

UTLA logoThe United Teachers Los Angeles has announced two additional forums with candidates for president, one at Monroe High School on February 18 and the other two days later at UTLA headquarters.

Eight of the 10 candidates faced off in a debate that resulted in at least one consensus: the current state of the union is fractured and plagued with in-fighting. Though fewer than 40 people attended, those in the audience were treated to lengthy discussions of UTLA governing principles and school board negotiating tactics. Candidates also criticized LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, with one calling him a “corporatee” and accusing his push to rid the district of ineffective teachers as causing irreparable damage to the profession.

Both forums are scheduled to take place from 6-8 PM.

Previous Posts: Union candidates gang up on Fletcher and, of courseDeasyCandidates seeking Warren Fletcher’s job at UTLA vie for attention

Union candidates gang up on Fletcher and, of course, Deasy

Bill Gaffney, one of ten candidates for president of UTLA

Bill Gaffney, one of ten candidates for president of UTLA

The Los Angeles teachers union election process is long – from February to July – and a lot like a reality show, with multiple voting rounds to knock out candidates/contestants, until finally, there’s only one person left standing.

That’s especially true in the race for UTLA president, which has 10 men competing for the chance to lead about 40,000 teachers, counselors, nurses, and other health and human services professionals.

Eight of them faced each other for the first time yesterday, in the first forum of the campaign season. It was held at Thomas Starr King Middle School in Silver Lake, organized by the school’s chapter chair for members of the North Area. Fewer than 40 people attended, and that included candidates for other offices.

Over the course of an hour incumbent Warren Fletcher, Gregg Solkovits, Alex Caputo-Pearl, David Garcia, Bill Gaffney, Saul Lankster, Marcos Ortega II and Kevin Mottus answered questions touching on the union’s successes and failures over the last three years under Fletcher; they addressed the causes of the achievement gap and how to close it; and the opportunities and challenges in LA Unified.

Without wasting any time they all agreed — even Fletcher — the current state of the union is fractured and plagued with in-fighting.

“One of the great challenges we face is disunity,” he admitted to the audience, which, ironically all appeared to be united on this issue.

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Fletcher challengers for UTLA top job campaigning online

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Candidates in a crowded field to take the top spot at one of the nation’s most powerful teachers union, UTLA, are angling to distinguish themselves online.

An online search finds that four of the 10 running, Gregg Solkovits, Alex Caputo-Pearl, Saul Lankster and Bill Gafney, have established a website presence, announcing their candidacies and platforms.

UTLA allows candidates to publicly display endorsements and collect campaign donations directly from its membership, which includes 33,000 teachers and other school staff.

Absent from the list is current UTLA President Warren Fletcher, who has a Facebook page from the last UTLA election cycle and an empty Blogspot with a banner, “Elect Warren Fletcher for UTLA President,” but no posts. Other candidates have various personal websites and blogs that do not include information about the election.

Thomas Starr King Middle School is hosting a UTLA candidate forum at 4 pm tomorrow. Solkovits, Caputo-Pearl, Gafney, Lankster, Gafney, Kevin Mottus, Marcos Orterga II and Fletcher have committed to participate.

Election ballots are scheduled be mailed to UTLA members on February 25 but won’t be tabulated until late March.

Previous Posts: Fletcher joining challengers at union forum next week*UTLA Factions Lining Up to Oust Fletcher as PresidentUTLA calls for a do-over in union elections over unpaid dues

 

Fletcher joining challengers at union forum next week*

UTLA President Warren Fletcher

UTLA President Warren Fletcher

Another name to add to the candidates for UTLA president participating in a forum next week:

UTLA President Warren Fletcher.

The event is scheduled to begin at 4 o’clock next Thursday at Thomas Starr King Middle School.

Wil Page, the school’s chapter chair, says Fletcher has agreed to join six other confirmed candidates — Kevin MottusGregg SolkovitsAlex Caputo-PearlBill Gafney, David Garcia and Saul Lankster.

The winner in an election process that concludes in July serves a three-year term.

Click here for the forum details.

* Adds Saul Lankster to the list of participants.