UTLA plans 5 rallies as part of National Day of Action
Craig Clough | November 10, 2014
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United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) is planning rallies at five locations on Nov. 20 with the duel purpose of demanding a new contract from the district and to participate in the National Day of Action that is being organized by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools.
UTLA is calling on all of its members to participate in the rallies, using some strong language on its website, which says that “a 35,000 member union can’t win a fight against the corporate parasites lined up against us with anything less than 35,000 members active in the fight.”
The rallies are part of a series of monthly “escalating actions” organized by UTLA’s new leadership as it looks to put pressure on the district in contract negotiations. The union’s demands are outlined in the Schools LA Students Deserve campaign, which includes a demand for teacher raises, lower class sizes and an end to “teacher jail.”
UTLA members have been working on a day-to-day contract since the last one expired in 2011. Since taking office over the summer, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl has ramped up the rhetoric and attempted to put pressure on the district for a new contract through his speeches and the union’s escalating actions. This has included hints at a possible strike, which was evident at the union’s annual leadership conference in September.
Representatives of the union and district have held several contract bargaining sessions this fall, but are still far apart, with district negotiator Vivian Ekchian saying that the union’s demands would “deal a devastating blow to the district’s educational programs.”
The first escalating action as part of the series was “Big Red Tuesday” on Sept 30, where UTLA members were encouraged to wear ted T-shirts, the official UTLA color. That was followed on Oct. 21 with a press conference outside North Hollywood High School which focused on class sizes, with teachers and supporters around the district encouraged to wear a sticker highlighting their class size and student/teacher ratio.
The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools is a national organization that includes the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union and is dedicated to fighting the charter school movement, the broad use of standardized testing and connecting test scores with teacher evaluations.