December 19, 2018Press Release
LOS ANGELES — After 20 months of fruitless bargaining and lies and manipulation on the part of LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner, United Teachers Los Angeles today announced a strike date of Thursday, January 10.
UTLA is demanding that LAUSD immediately:
- use the $1.9 billion in unrestricted reserves for smaller class sizes; for more nurses, counselors, and librarians; and to fully fund our schools;
- commit to more support for special education, early education, bilingual education, and adult education;
- end the toxic overtesting of our students;
- empower parent and educator voices at the school site with stronger Local School Leadership Councils; and
- address the charter industry drain that siphons more than $600 million from our schools every year.
Unless these issues are genuinely addressed and reflected in a bargaining proposal, educators will be on the picket lines beginning Thursday, January 10.
Working without a contract for more than one year, UTLA members have attempted to reach an agreement with LAUSD, but the district has repeatedly showed that it has no interest in bargaining in good faith. District officials have used every opportunity to undermine the union with our members, to hide basic data and financial documentation from UTLA, and to stop educators from talking to parents and the community. We have filed multiple unfair practice charges against the district, demanding that it stop this unlawful conduct, but nothing has changed. UTLA does not have a good faith partner in negotiations. In light of this, UTLA has not accepted the district’s offer to go back to the table.
The neutral fact-finding report released yesterday confirms three essential UTLA positions: That LAUSD has $1.8 billion in reserves (total is now $1.9 billion); that LAUSD should increase staffing of nurses, counselors, and other professional staff; and that LAUSD should eliminate Section 1.5 of the contract (which allows the district to unilaterally increase class size).
“There has been one force at the bargaining table pushing to improve the educational experience for the 600,000 students in the district, and that has been UTLA and the parents and community standing with us,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “By dragging us through bad faith bargaining for 20 months and refusing to invest in our schools, the district has disrespected our students and disrespected us. We have exhausted our options.”
Beutner has yet to retract the demonstrably false claim he made yesterday that a 6% salary agreement has been reached between LAUSD and UTLA. There is no such agreement. In September Beutner gave the media and later UTLA an unofficial offer of a 3% raise retroactive to July 1, 2017, and an additional 3% as of July 1, 2018, but that offer comes with unacceptable strings attached, including making it harder to qualify for healthcare in retirement and requiring more work hours for already overworked educators.
Concurrent with today’s strike announcement, UTLA is filing another Unfair Practice Charge with the Public Employment Relations Board. The latest charge is for the district’s use of illegal fear and intimidation tactics in issuing warning letters to employees and for Beutner’s claim that there was a contract agreement when there is none.
In August, UTLA members authorized a strike with an overwhelming 98% yes vote—the highest strike authorization approval since UTLA was founded in 1970. Yesterday, the UTLA Board of Directors officially authorized the union to call a strike. If LA educators strike on January 10, it will be the first UTLA walkout since 1989 and would underscore that public education has reached its most decisive point in decades. Years of underfunding, the unregulated growth of the charter industry, and district neglect have starved our schools of necessary resources. More than 80% of LAUSD schools don’t have a full-time school nurse. LAUSD has among the highest class sizes in California, a state that has among the highest average class sizes in the nation (California is 48th out of 50 states in student-to-teacher ratios). Overtesting of students is crowding out instruction in arts, music, ethnic studies, and science.
Austin Beutner, a former investment banker, refuses to use the district’s record-breaking reserve (now topping $1.9 billion) for basic student needs and refuses to address the $600 million drained from neighborhood public schools by the corporate charter industry. Instead of reinvesting in our schools, Beutner is attempting to dismantle them with his plan to break LAUSD into 32 networks. This so-called portfolio model has been tried in many cities, including Newark, New Orleans, and Indianapolis, where it has increased school closings, deepened segregation and disparities between schools, and compromised learning conditions.
“As was demonstrated when more than 50,000 people marched through the streets of LA on December 15, if we strike, it will be a strike for our students, a strike with our parents, and a strike for educational and racial justice,” Caputo-Pearl said. “We have watched underfunding and the actions of privatizers undermine our schools for too long. No more. Our students and families are worth the investment, and the civic institution of public education in Los Angeles is worth saving.”
View the Facebook Live stream of the press conference here