In Articles, Eric Mann, The Labor Community Strategy Center

The Strategy Center Stands with UTLA Teachers

Jesenia Chavez & Kirti Baranwal on the UTLA Strike

The Labor/Community Strategy Center fully supports the struggle and demands of the United Teachers of Los Angeles and the 30,000 dedicated teachers who are on strike for better quality education. We urge the LAUSD Board and Superintendent Beutner to make the necessary concessions and compromises to reach a lasting agreement with the union. It is very difficult for teachers to decide to strike and we know that students, parents, grandparents and family members of the 640,000 students, want the strike to result in class size reductions, no two tiered wage agreements that sacrifice future teachers for short-term benefits for the present teachers, and an end to agreements that promise improvements while also having language that can nullify them if the fiscal situation changes—otherwise, why sign a contract?  We understand the LAUSD has a $2 billion surplus and that not all of those funds are eligible to meet the contractual improvements the UTLA is seeking. We also understand the LAUSD has legitimate budget problems. But, it would seem that the best solution would be to first use some of that surplus to make a significant reduction in class size and then work with the union to go to Sacramento to seek additional funds.

The students in the LAUSD are more than 74 percent Latino and 9 percent Black, most of whom are very low-income, and urgently need dramatically reduced class size and many more teachers to bring out their gifts and contributions to society. This strike is also a social justice and civil rights fight for better education opportunities for students of color—a goal we know many LAUSD board members share, which should lead to more agreement to systematically reduce class size as a victory for all of us.

The Strategy Center produces Voices from the Frontlines—Your National Movement-Building Show on KPFK 90.7 FM hosted by Eric Mann and produced by Channing Martinez. In the past 2 weeks we have had in-depth conversations with UTLA teachers who are on strike, Jesenia Chavez a teacher at UCLA Community School and Kirti Baranwal, a UTLA teacher and a graduate of the Strategy Center’s National School for Strategic Organizing.

Please listen to them, in their own voice, explain the issues in the strike and why they are seeking the full support of teachers, students, parents, and administrators for their just and legitimate demands.