November 14, 2019News
LOS ANGELES — United Teachers Los Angeles, the second-largest teachers’ local in the country, is proud to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for US President in the 2020 Primary Election, making UTLA the first teachers’ union in the country to endorse a presidential candidate.
Tonight, the UTLA House of Representatives – the elected leadership body of the 34,000-member union — voted 80% in favor of endorsing Sen. Sanders, capping the most comprehensive member engagement process that UTLA has ever conducted for a political candidate.
Thursday’s House vote followed a six-week discussion at school sites. Following that member engagement, on Wednesday at nine regional meetings, more than 500 elected site representatives voted 72.5% yes to the presidential endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders. Wednesday’s vote was opened up to allow any member who attended to vote alongside elected chapter leaders.
UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said: “Why now, and why Bernie? Because we want him to win in the primary election and because we need an unapologetic, longstanding ally of progressive policies to make public education a priority in the White House. Sanders is the first viable major candidate in 25 years in the Democratic Party to stand up against privatization, the charter billionaires, and high-stakes testing and to stand up for a massive redistribution of wealth to schools and social services. Critically, like UTLA, Sen. Sanders believes in building a national movement for real, lasting change.”
Teachers are the number one profession among his donors for a reason: Sanders has the most comprehensive, progressive plan for public education among the candidates. His platform calls for a salary floor for public school teachers, tripling Title I federal education funding, boosting funding for special education (IDEA), and placing a moratorium on charter school growth. For the last several decades the unregulated growth of corporate charter schools has siphoned money from public schools, with little protection against fraud and little attention paid to equity or quality when it comes to educating students.
In addition to education issues, Sanders’ platform aligns with our values on a range of issues, including rebuilding the US labor movement and winning Medicare for All.
Bernie spoke at UTLA’s Leadership Conference in July, and he brought down the house with his defiant message about leading a movement for fundamental political and social change, including a strong, fully funded public education system. Sen. Sanders also signed a pledge to support Schools and Communities First and Our New Deal for Public Schools. He was the first major US politician to publicly support our 2019 strike, and he pushed for donations to our strike fund, leading to a cascade of influential support and an increase in the fund of more than $100,000.
LA educators are standing behind a candidate who has the electability to beat Trump. Sanders is leading in Democratic fundraising, is strong in swing states and among independent voters, beats Trump in head-to-head polls, and has major support in demographics that will vote heavily in 2020, including Latinx voters, Black women, and millennials. As the electorate becomes more diverse, defeating Trump will require a candidate who can motivate a diverse coalition of voters.
Sanders’ platform is not just a corrective to the destructive presidency of Donald Trump but also to failed policies of the past few decades that have starved public schools and left behind working-class and middle-class families while giving massive tax breaks to corporations and billionaires. Long-standing Democratic Party leaders have been a part of these problems.
“We must take the most anti-Trump stance that we can take,” said UTLA Vice President Gloria Martinez. “That includes endorsing Sen. Sanders. We see in Bernie the same fighting spirit that drove 60,000 people — teachers, students and parents — to the streets of LA in January during UTLA’s strike to invest in our students.”
The following is a timeline of UTLA’s endorsement.
- Sept. 11 – UTLA Board of Directors votes 35-1 to begin exploring an endorsement process for Sen. Bernie Sanders.
- Sept. 18 – UTLA House of Representatives votes 135-46 to confirm the process to explore endorsing Sanders.
- Oct. 2 – School site leaders discuss and review endorsement materials.
- Oct. 2-Nov. 12 — School site leaders engage members on consideration of a UTLA endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
- Nov. 13— Membership advisory up or down vote at 9 regional area meetings. 72.5% of voters, representing more than 500 LAUSD schools, say yes to endorsing Sanders.
- Nov. 14 — House of Representatives votes 80% to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders.
*No monetary contribution was made to the Bernie Sanders campaign. Minimal staff time was used to post this message.
UTLA, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union local, is proud to represent more than 35,000 teachers and health & human services professionals in district and charter schools in LAUSD.