UTLA members recommitting despite Janus decision

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UTLA statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision, which overturns a 40-year-old Supreme Court ruling that allows public employee unions to collect “fair share” fees from workers to cover their share of the cost of collective bargaining over their wages, benefits, and working conditions.

We see the Janus lawsuit for what it is — not a court case about freedom of speech but a well-funded, long-planned attack by anti-union, anti-worker billionaires and corporations to weaken unions and open the door to privatizing education and other critical social services.

This is not the decision we wanted but it is the one we have been preparing for. Since January, educators in LA have been engaging in an energetic membership drive — colleague connecting with colleague — to sign new UTLA membership cards. 

“Our members are recommitting to UTLA in huge numbers because we know we need a collective voice to protect the schools that are open to all students,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl says. “Our union is our best shot to organize with parents, students, and the community to fight for more funding and to stand up to the ideologically driven, pro-privatization leadership of LAUSD, which prioritizes the unregulated growth of charter schools over the sustainability of neighborhood public schools.”

Nearly $600 million is siphoned every year from LA schools to run privately operated charters, which exacerbates the shamefully low level of state funding that schools receive. California — the fifth-largest economy in the world—ranks 43rd in the country in per-pupil funding, which means our students lack the resources, low class sizes, and supports that kids in many other states take for granted.

Even though we were prepared for the Janus decision, it is nonetheless deeply disturbing. It affects 5 million employees across the country and, by extension, the larger labor movement. Workers will now face tougher fights for fair pay, affordable healthcare, and a chance at reaching the middle class. In this time of unprecedented income inequality, this is the wrong direction for our country.