In Memoriam REV
Rosalva Rushton Ungar

Roselva  Rushton Ungar

October 31, 1926 – February 10, 2022

Roselva passed on at her home after a long and full life of 95 years. Born into an activist  family, she dedicated her life to the fight for peace, social justice and equality , in her steadfast and gracious way. As a young woman, she was involved in political movements in Detroit where she sometimes sang with her close friend and fellow activist, Barbara Dane,  the well-known folk, blues and jazz singer for peace and justice. 

Roselva  began her long career as both an educator and education activist in Los Angeles in 1965 when she started to work with the  first pilot program of Head Start.  Her work with the East LA Head Start (AFT 1475) continued for 18 years until 1983, (and then as a Board member until 2016).

 
As always, Roselva became deeply involved with families and the community  where she worked.  On August 29, 1970, she was at a gathering in a park awaiting the arrival of  30,000  young Chicanos protesting the war. When a sea of sheriffs and police suddenly attacked the crowd with tear gas and batons, Roselva went to the first aid station in the center to help the injured and drive  some of them out through the violent police blockade.  Three people,  including Ruben Salazar, were killed by the police at what is commemorated annually as the Chicano Moratorium. 

 In 1973, the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) hired this dynamic organizer as a  State Staff Representative to work with other Head Start and early childhood locals in public school districts, in the LA metropolitan area, the San Gabriel Valley and in other parts of California. When the Coalition of Labor Union Women was founded in 1980, Roselva joined as the Chair of the Child Care Committee.

Roselva was hired by LAUSD in 1983 to teach a School Readiness  Language Development class for 4-year-olds at Glen Alta Elementary School in northeast Los Angeles. Her teaching skills and her warm, caring nature was greatly appreciated by her colleagues, students, and their parents. She worked in the classroom for 17 years until her retirement. In addition to being a mentor teacher for 6 years, she later worked for UCLA’s Teach LA as a field supervisor.
 
 By 1984, Roselva became active in UTLA. She was soon elected to be the union representative at Glen Alta, then a representative in the  UTLA East Area.  She extended her union activism in our union to the Professional Development Committee and later joined the Human Rights Committee.  

Roselva was also very active in solidarity work with educators  in other countries.  In 2007, she attended the Education International Conference in Berlin and by 2006 she was a key member of the Trinational Coalition in Defense of Public Education. Her international work and spirit was deeply appreciated and respected by education activists from Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico and  Guatemala.

But beyond all her achievements, Roselva was a beloved friend and inspiration to so many people from all walks of life.  Her warm presence and bright smile would light up a room. So many of us in UTLA, especially women, saw her as a role model, especially the combination of strength, kindness, graciousness that she quietly radiated.  She was a mentor to so many of us over the years. Roselva lived her life to its fullest, as a loving mother to her children and a friend and educator to so many - while never giving up the fight for equality, for bilingual rights, union rights, human rights and environmental rights, and of all life up to her last days.
 

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Marc Rich

Marc Rich

Marc Rich, a friend to many of us, passed away on February 21st at his home in Pasadena.

For more than two decades, Marc was active in UTLA, serving as a delegate to the House of Representative, on his Area Steering Committee, the Human Rights Committee and as a delegate to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Following his retirement, he remained active in  both UTLA Retired the Human Rights committees and in a coalition about which he was passionate: The Trinational Coalition in Defense of Public Education.

Marc’s family is requesting that donations in his name be made to the ACLU.

The Pasadena Lawn Bowling Club* will be holding a  Memorial for Marc on Monday, March 28, 6:00 pm.

Pasadena Lawn Bowling Club
275 S. Raymond Ave Pasadena, CA 91105

After the program, a sunset Last Bowl Ceremony will be held on the green.
Club officers report that a tournament will be named in his honor.

*The Club is located in Central Park; cross street is Del Mar Blvd and right across Raymond from the Del Mar Metro Gold Line stop. There is metered street parking as well as inexpensive parking in the underground Metro parking lot.

Feel free to share the invitation with other friends of Marc and UTLA members.

 

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Sam Kresner

 

Sam Kresner

It is with great sadness that Sam Kresner died on Tuesday, January 25th. His passing marked the end of his 30+ years as an educator, union organizer and representative, contract negotiator, and champion of teachers everywhere.

Sam was the son of Polish immigrants who left everything behind to move to the United States. He was born in Chicago and lived there for the first 18 years of his life. His father had heart problems and was bed ridden until Sam was 10. He died leaving Sam, his mother who spoke little English, and 2 older sisters alone with no family in the area. His mother struggled to support her family.

When he was 18, the family moved to Los Angeles where his oldest sister’s husband was going attend USC. Sam worked 2 jobs to help his mother, and pay for his tuition at Los Angeles City College (Now Cal State LA).

At 19, he met Sandra who would be his partner and wife for the next 68 years. They met on a blind date on New Year’s Eve and eloped two years later. He was 21, she was 17 when they married. They had their first child one year later.

Sam worked at a West Los Angeles gas station on the overnight shift, studying when it was slow. He had so many stories from that job – including the famous, not-yet-famous, and infamous patrons but finally graduated with his Master’s Degree and teaching credential.

As a new teacher, Sam taught upper grades, special education, split classes – anything the principal wanted him to do.

Sam was on track to become a principal when he met Bill Lambert. Bill told him about this group trying to form a union. At that time, teachers had no rights. If your principal decided or she wanted you out of your school, you could be fired with no recourse or be assigned to a school without your consent. 

Sam spent all his spare time (he didn’t have much with his teaching responsibilities and  4 children) working with the union organizers. He marched, spoke, recruited and did anything he could to make UTLA successful.

Finally, the district agreed to collective bargaining. But which union? UTLA joined forces with the AFL/CIO and that was that. UTLA became the teacher’s union.

But there was one catch. They had to agree to a strike. The leadership of that organization said that nothing unites workers like a strike and since LAUSD wasn’t operating in good faith, a strike was the way to go.

In 1970, UTLA called for a strike and the teachers walked. It was the 60’s and the air was ripe with calls for fairness and equality. At first strike was a little chaotic. First, UTLA said everyone should send their kids to school to show the district how much they needed teachers. Then they decided everyone should honor the picket line and no one supporting the teachers went to school.

UTLA families, organized picket lines in front of individual schools. Families supporting the teachers and the strike kept their children home.

Arguably, the most memorable part of the strike was the march from UTLA to the district headquarters in downtown LA. It was more like a party. The teachers mustered a cacophony of walkers; teachers, their families, musicians playing and walking, we even had dogs with picket sandwich boards walking the line. The Lamberts had their dog and a red Radio Flyer wagon for the kids who got tired.

After the strike, Sam moved into the role of grievance coordinator. He never went to law school, but challenged lawyers from the district on the legitimacy of actions against teachers. Our phone number was the one on the emergency line recording. All night we would get calls from teachers in trouble – some were in a lot of trouble.

Sam continued to work his way up in the union, with one his most lasting legacies being medical benefits. As a father of four, he knew how much the teachers and their families needed affordable medical, dental, and vision benefits. Thanks to him, to this day teachers have one of the best benefits programs for teachers in the country. He made sure the district offered a number of quality programs that they were able to use without going into debt. He also initiated the practice of including benefits in the compensation teachers received. So when we pay $20 bucks to see a doctor, that’s because Sam worked hard to make it happen. And every year, fought to keep it in the contract.

Sam became the highest non-elected official at UTLA training the union president on his or her job. He continued to work on the negotiating committee, even when he retired. Retiree benefits are thanks to him, too. He remained on the Retirement Committee protecting retired teachers. It was only in the last few years when his health wouldn’t allow him to participate that he retired.

Sam loved puns. Five minutes in a meeting with Sam and you’ll see the participates chuckling behind their hands. Or better yet, groaning.

The only thing that made him prouder than his work for the union was his children. When one of his children FINALLY became a teacher, he was beyond thrilled. But he was an ethical and moral man and would not use his contacts to help me, his own daughter, get a job.

In retirement, he would tell you that no one remembered him. He was a modest man.

Even these last few months when he was so ill, Sam lit up when someone asked him about the union.

Sam and Sandra remained a strong partnership until his death. He was proud dad to 4 children, Marlene, Marsha, Charlotte, and Michael, 8 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren. All the kids adored Grandpa Sam and he had so much fun with them,


 

Sam at LATA meeting

 

In memory of Sam Kresner
By John Perez
UTLA-Retired President


It is hard to overestimate the contribution that Sam Kresner made to UTLA.  Sam started his career as an elementary school teacher in the LAUSD.  Sam was a member of the Association of Classroom Teachers-Los Angeles (ACT-LA) one of the two predecessor organizations to UTLA.  He was hired by ACT-LA as a part-time staff member and then became full time.  When ACT-LA merged with the L.A. Teachers Union, AFT Local 1021 and UTLA was born, he became a member of the UTLA staff.  When Sam retired in 2007, he had given close to 50 years service to the Los Angeles school community as a teacher and staff member for ACT-LA and UTLA.

When UTLA was formed in 1970, Sam became one of the Area Representatives for UTLA Valley West.  As such, he was chiefly responsible for the staff work in Valley West that supported the first UTLA strike in 1970.  After education employees got collective bargaining in 1975, UTLA’s then Executive Director, Don Baer, chose Sam to be on UTLA’s first negotiating team.  Sam’s job was to take what had been agreed to in negotiations and with a team from the LAUSD write the actual contract language.  As such, over time no one in the District or in UTLA had a better knowledge of what the contract language was and what it meant then Mr. Kresner. 

In 1980, after the election of Judy Solkovits as President of UTLA, Executive Director Baer took a job with the CTA and UTLA thus needed a new Executive Director.  President Solkovits chose to assume many of the duties of the Executive Director and Mr. Kresner was hired to fill a new staff position—Director of the Professional Staff.   As such, it was his responsibility to make sure that when UTLA decided on an action that the professional staff carried out that policy.  If a demonstration was called for, it was Sam’s responsibility to make sure that the demonstration came off without a hitch. When Wayne Johnson became UTLA President (1984), Sam was acting in many ways as UTLA’s chief negotiator in all negotiations with the District.  Working with President Johnson, Sam Kresner organized the UTLA staff to support the 1989 strike.  

Over time, the various presidents of UTLA gave Mr. Kresner more and more responsibility.  By the time Helen Bernstein became UTLA President (1990), Mr. Kresner was not only the Director of the Professional Staff he was also the Manager of the Managers.  He was in effect the Executive Director of UTLA.  President Bernstein saw that the many jobs that Mr. Kresner was responsible for were too big for one person.  His duties included not only being the Director of the Professional Staff, but as the manager of the mangers he was responsible for seeing to it that all UTLA departments carried out UTLA policy.   He continued to be a key member of the UTLA negation team and one of UTLA’s chief spokespersons for at the table.  He continued to be one of the principal writers of contact language once an agreement was reached between UTLA and the District.  President Bernstein removed the job of directing and organizing the UTLA Professional Staff from Mr. Kresner’s plate and renamed his position as Executive Assistant to the UTLA President.

Starting with President Hank Springer in 1974, Mr. Kresner became the chief advisor to every UTLA President until he retired in 2007.  Presidents Springer, Solkovits, Johnson, Bernstein, Higuchi, Perez, and Duffy came to relay on his wealth of knowledge of teacher unionism and UTLA’s history.  President Bernstein asked the NEA to send a team to UTLA to audit how UTLA used its staff so that UTLA could make better use of its staff.   Sam’s central and critical role in UTLA was illustrated by what the UTLA Professional Staff told the NEA auditors.  One of the questions the NEA asked UTLA’s Professional Staff was, ”When you have a problem who on the UTLA Professional Staff do you turn to for advice?”  EVERY member of the UTLA Professional Staff answered, “Sam Kresner!”

"It is not well known, but Sam Kresner was there when the employees of the LAUSD got lifetime medical, dental, and vision care for qualifying employees.  In the days before UTLA when Sam was an organizer for ACT-LA he was monitoring a school board meeting when the President of the Board announced that the school board had decided that the District would pay for the health care premiums of all District employees.  Mr. Kresner jumped up and went to the mic.  He asked the President of the Board, "Does that included retired employees?"  The Board President answered, "Yes."  Just something to remember when you have to go see your doctor, dentist, or get a new pair of glasses or take one of your loved ones to the doctor."   

I first met Mr. Kresner in the 1970’s, when I was just getting started as a UTLA activist and I came to see him not only as one of my mentors in the Union Movement but also I came to count him as a friend.  I cannot express how important Mr. Kresner’s advice was to me as President of the union.  The other UTLA presidents who worked side by side with Mr. Kresner said the same thing about what his advice meant to them.  

Mr. Kresner was also a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather and one would be hard pressed to find a better friend.  If one looks up the definition of the word “mensch” in a dictionary, one will find the smiling face of one of the founders of our union—Sam Kresner.            
 

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Passings_Wolfgang Buettner REV

Wolfgang Buettner, math teacher at 32nd Street/LAUSD USC Magnet Schools, passed away on December 23 from COVID-related complications. Mr. Wolfgang, as he preferred to be called by his students and colleagues, was born and raised in Germany, and he worked for 20-plus years as a sports journalist mainly in German TV and radio. In 2004, he relocated to Los Angeles after he met his future wife, Nancy. Nancy was a high school teacher, and was instrumental in his choice of the teaching profession.

Wolfgang believed that his previous life and work experience would be an asset he could bring to his teaching. From here, he lived his dream and became an inspiration and role model for his students. Wolfgang unfortunately lost his wife in 2019, but even through his grief he always shared a smile, and was a valuable part of the Media Arts & Engineering Magnet family. He was a part of this close-knit school community for three years and he will be missed by countless students and staff. He is survived by his two daughters, Luka Korbinian and Lilith Paulina, who live in Germany.

 

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Passings_Kim Jones_REV2

The Wilmington Park Elementary community has lost Kim Jones, who passed away over the weekend. Kim had taught for many years at Normandie Early Education Center before transferring recently to Wilmington, where she taught pre-K children. We will share more details of her life at a future time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Passings_Diana Rodriguez_REV

The Belvedere Elementary School community is heartbroken over the loss of one of its most beloved teachers from complications due to COVID-19. Diana Rodriguez was a well-respected LAUSD educator who, for over 30 years, dedicated her life to teaching and improving the lives of students in East Los Angeles.

Diana was an LAUSD student and began her career at Garfield High School in 1985 as an aide. She met the love of her life, Jim, an English teacher, there. They were married on December 16, 1989, and have three lovely children.

Diana was more than a teacher. She was a dreamer. She envisioned the best for her students and then made it happen. She inspired her colleagues to follow in her steps: Be humble and kind, appreciate the innocence in this world, and strive to nurture everyone you touch with love and understanding. Her legacy will continue to live on in all who had the privilege of calling her friend, colleague, sister, tia, mother, mentor, and maestra.

A Go Fund Me has been established by Diana’s friends to help create Mrs. Rodriguez’ Literacy Garden at school and complete her vision of a Secret Garden at home. ⬇︎

Diana Rodriguez gofundme

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Paul Huebner-1

The UTLA and LAUSD families grieved the loss of longtime activist and our beloved union brother Paul Huebner, who died December 2020. Paul served as UTLA Chapter Chair at four different schools (Multnomah ES, Hammel ES, Rowan ES and Hollenbeck MS) during his 30-plus year teaching career. Paul represented the Eastside on UTLA’s Board of Directors from 1990 to 2005, and served four terms as the UTLA East Area Chair (1994-2005). Paul also served as Co-Chair of the UTLA Ruben Salazar Scholarship Fund for over 25 years, and coordinated UTLA’s political phone banking operations throughout the 1990s. If there was union work to be done, Paul was there to do it. He will be sorely missed.

 

 

 

 

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Passings_Erica Brown-Atkinson

Barrett Elementary fifth-grade teacher Erica Brown-Atkinson was a loving wife, caring mother, dedicated educator, and everyone’s friend. Colleagues says planning fifth-grade activities was “her jam” and hers was the class every student wanted to be in. She leaves behind her husband, John, and a daughter, Asia. Erica passed away from complications of COVID-19. ⬇︎

Brown memorial

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Pasings_Jay Canedo3

Jay Canedo was a third-grade teacher at Haynes Charter for Enriched Studies for the past 19 years. He was a master of his craft and was one of the most popular teachers at his school. Students, colleagues and families took a liking to his vibrant energy. Jay was a dedicated teacher who instilled pride in his students and encouraged them to love themselves.

 

 

 

 

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Passings_Alec Dixon3

Alec Dixon passed away in December from complications of COVID-19. His friends say that to know Alec was to love him. Alec brought joy, happiness, and laughter to all who crossed his path, and his passion as a teacher was unmatched. He always had the music going and sparkly-eyed children waiting to see what fun Mr. Dixon had up his sleeve. Some would even say he was a child at heart and knew how to get the children excited about learning. ⬇︎

Passings_Alec Dixon memorial

 

 

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Passings_Nick Glover4-web_REV

Nick Glover taught first and fourth grade at Carpenter for 17 years, an active member of the school’s governance council who was committed to representing his colleagues at the highest level. His quick wit and eloquent way with words were his trademarks. He is survived by his wife, Susan, and children Andrew and Emma. Nick passed away from complications of COVID-19. ⬇︎

glover family gofundme

 

 

 

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Retired Bethune Middle School teacher Jim Desalvo is being remembered as a great educator and unionist — a mentor and friend to colleagues, ready with jokes, laughter, straight talk, and political discussions at any time. He was also an outstanding women's basketball coach with Trade Tech College and won two state championships and several league titles with them as well as with other community colleges. During the strike, even though he was retired, he brought doughnuts to the line and marched with UTLA in the rain.

 

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Passings_Lang Boston5-web

Retired educator Lang Boston was a former chapter chair at Fleming Middle School. Lang was catapulted into the national spotlight when he appeared on several televised appearances with comedian, and former student, D.L. Hughley, who credited Lang with crucial support at a key time in his life. Lang’s Fleming colleagues say that he was a trusted friend and a long-standing man of integrity, and even in retirement was on the lines during the recent UTLA strike.