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Antonucci: UTLA announces May 15 ‘sympathy strike’ to greet new superintendent

Mike Antonucci | May 8, 2018

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Mike Antonucci’s Union Report appears weekly at LA School Report.

Austin Beutner, the newly named superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, is already getting his trial by fire.

SEIU Local 99, which represents education support employees in the district, will hold a 24-hour strike on May 15 because of contentious contract negotiations. That is also the day that Beutner will debut at an LAUSD school board meeting. SEIU plans to hold a rally at the meeting.

United Teachers Los Angeles announced a “sympathy strike” for the same day, but it apparently will be limited to those schools and work sites where SEIU 99 will form picket lines.

• Read more: Antonucci: UTLA directs its members to boycott after-school faculty meetings for the month of May

“This means that we are calling on our members to withhold service for the entire day on May 15 at every worksite at which there is a Local 99 picket line,” reads UTLA’s announcement. “We are urging our members at the affected schools, instead of providing service that day, to join the picket lines at their school/worksites as we build solidarity and power to confront the unfair labor practices of LAUSD.”

UTLA is advising teachers at other sites to go to work as usual.

The teachers union claims to have “the legal right to do this,” but that question is open to debate. Article VI of the UTLA contract states:

“Neither UTLA nor its officers or representatives or affiliates shall cause, encourage, condone or participate in any strike, slowdown or other work stoppage during the term of this Agreement. In the event of any actual or threatened strike, slowdown or other work stoppage, UTLA and its officers, representatives and affiliates will take all reasonable steps within their control to avert or end the same…”

The provision further states that employees who engage in any work stoppage are subject to discipline or termination.

The UTLA contract expired in 2017, but all other provisions are still being observed by both the union and the district. The union is normally a stickler for contract enforcement. It seems odd that UTLA considers this particular provision to be non-binding.

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