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

Mike Antonucci | May 8, 2018

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

The leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles have had many ambitious plans to create a teacher mass movement such as we have seen in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Almost two years ago, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl promised to “create a state crisis” in early 2018. His plan included a number of escalating steps that would ultimately “shock the system into investing in the civic institution of public education.”

His plan had a promising start with the passage of Proposition 55 in November 2016. It extended the temporary higher taxes on high-earning residents to fund schools that voters passed in 2012 as Proposition 30.

The next phases were much less successful.

UTLA wanted to win a majority on the Los Angeles school board in May 2017. It didn’t.

UTLA wanted coordinated bargaining with other large teacher unions in the state whose contracts were also expiring in June 2017. That didn’t happen.

UTLA wanted to lead a 2018 campaign to undercut the property tax limits in Proposition 13. That effort has been postponed until 2020.

But the union is nothing if not persistent. UTLA is engineering a new series of actions that it hopes will culminate in a strike authorization vote in September.

The organized activities include a boycott of after-school faculty meetings every Tuesday for the month of May. The union advised teachers to continue conducting parent conferences but will be taking measures to ensure full participation in the boycott by teachers.

Each union site representative will be taking attendance at whatever alternate activity UTLA conducts during the faculty meeting time. Those who fail to participate in the boycott will receive a visit from the union rep, who has been instructed to “talk with them and explain that they are undermining you and your coworkers and weakening our chances of achieving a fair contract and encourage them to participate in the next boycott.”

Teachers are advised they could be subject to discipline, such as a letter of reprimand, but are being told, “Sometimes risks need to be taken for progress to occur.”

UTLA explained the boycotts “are not actions against any individual principal or administrator; they are a demonstration of our power to LAUSD” and will “underscore our push for increased funding from the state.”

It bears mentioning that teachers are being misled by one aspect of UTLA’s call to action. The union states, “We cannot achieve the Schools LA Students Deserve with funding that ranks 46th out of 50 states.”

That ranking came from Education Week’s 2017 Quality Counts survey, using figures from the 2013-14 school year. That year was also the first year after Proposition 30 passed. The California Teachers Association estimates that education funding in the state has increased 66 percent since that time. The National Education Association estimates California will rank 26th in per-pupil spending this year.

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