Fletcher Facing 8 in Bid for LA Teacher Union Presidency
LA School Report | December 6, 2013
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If Warren Fletcher is reelected president of the LA Unified teachers union, UTLA, it won’t be easy.
At yesterday’s filing deadline, the union announced that eight others – all men — are challenging him for a three-year term that begins next year.
The size of the field, which includes one current UTLA officer, Secondary Vice President Greg Solkovits, and one who also ran for president in 2011, Leonard Segal, suggests an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with Fletcher’s policies, leadership style or both.
The other candidates are David R. Garcia, Alex Caputo-Pearl, Kevin Mottus, Saul Lankster, Marcos Ortega and Bill Gaffney. Fletcher defeated seven other candidates and prevailed in a runoff when he won in 2011, succeeding A.J. Duffy.
“The upcoming UTLA election is about the fundamental direction of the union,” said Mike Stryer, a former union chapter chairman and now a Teach Plus vice president. “Teachers are essentially being asked whether the union should be driven primarily by bread and butter issues, broader social justice issues, or professionalization of teaching.”
The elections of president, six other executive officer positions and the UTLA Board of Directors will be conducted during the first quarter of 2014. All candidates run as individuals, and any who surpasses 50 percent of the vote is the winner. Short of that, the top two finishers contend in a runoff.
With an expected turnout of no more than a quarter of the union membership, it’s difficult to handicap the race for president. But Caputo-Pearl and Solkovits are regarded by many as the strongest among the Fletcher challengers.
Caputo-Pearl is running at the top of a slate – “Union Power” – that includes three current officers, an indication of current fractured leadership. Caputo-Pearl advocates for a broader approach of unionism than Fletcher, with a focus on socio-economic, race, equality and class issues. Fletcher has spent much of his time pushing for such basics as higher salaries and lower class size.
Solkovits, a UTLA officer for six years, says the union needs to be more open to ideas from membership. “There are a lot of younger teachers, people with divergent points of view,” he told LA School Report. “We need to listen to them.”
He also says the union has become too divisive for its own good.
Only the position Solkovits is vacating is an open seat, and all executive positions are being contested. NEA Vice President Mary Jan Roberts has two challengers; AFT Vice President Betty Forrester, three; Elementary Vice Juan Ramirez, four; Treasurer Arlene Inouye, five; and Secretary David Lyell, one.
Forrester, Ramirez and Inouye are running on the Caputo-Pearl slate.
The list of all candidates is here.
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