Strike talk emerges on Caputo-Pearl’s first day as union chief
LA School Report | July 1, 2014
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Alex Caputo-Pearl today assumed the office of President of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), a union battling with LA Unified for a larger salary increase than the two percent the district has offered.
UTLA remains one of the last of the district’s labor partners to reach agreement on a contract. The teachers had initially asked for a 17.6 percent raise, spread over an unspecified number of years. Negotiations continue, but there’s no clear indication an accord is anywhere in sight.
That’s especially problematic in that Caputo-Pearl, who spent his first day on the job in Denver, attending a National Education Association meeting, often suggested in campaigning for the presidency that he’d be willing to take the teachers on strike if a fair bargain is not reached.
And the possibility arose again today in a press release from the union.
It said Caputo-Pearl and his new team of officers are “hitting the ground running” on policy initiatives, which include “organizing members school-by-school, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, and area-by-area to a place where we can strike if we feel it is necessary” to achieve other gains, such as smaller classes, pay increases, additional school staffing and elimination of “gotcha” evaluations and “teacher jail.”
The possibility of a walkout came up later in the day in a statement from the union, expressing support for SEIU Local 99, the school support staff union, which is waiting to finalize its contract offer. The district has proposed $15 an hour for all workers who make less and a 6.64 percent increase over three years for workers who make more than $15 an hour.
In its words of support, UTLA said, “UTLA stands with the LAUSD school employees who have demanded, and who deserve, to be paid a living wage. This is a symbol of respect for people who work directly with students every day. UTLA members, over decades, have participated in coalition strategy meetings and walked on picket lines in support of workers’ struggles from all sectors for the living wage.”
Caputo-Pearl was unavailable for comment. A union spokeswoman said his schedule in Denver precludes it.