For six rainy days in January, if you were anywhere near one of the 800 LAUSD public school sites or in Grand Park you couldn’t miss the momentum and sky-high morale of the 30,000+ UTLA members who went on strike for “the schools our students deserve.” When UTLA reached agreement with the LAUSD after four days of marathon negotiations, they did more than just end a historic six-day strike. UTLA created a pathway to improve their schools and left a trail of lessons about the power of collective action.
The courageous, committed, and innovative members of United Teachers Los Angeles were successful for several reasons: the union brought parents, students, and community members together and focused their demands on a broad range of issues, not just wages. They demonstrated that when we stand together, our power is magnified and our voice is amplified.
Their strike, like the “Red for Ed” actions that swept through the nation last spring in other states, was fundamentally about securing the investment to create the schools all students deserve -- smaller class sizes, more support staff (librarians, nurses, counselors), and better pay for educators in a city with very high housing costs.
The UTLA teachers, parents, and students were not afraid to show their passion to make change. They were fearless in demonstrating that improved conditions matter.
Like UTLA educators, LACCD faculty care about our students, their families, and our communities. We, too, fight for these things – more tutors, new faculty hires, support staff, extended library and tutoring hours. We have worked to push our Board to support the needs of our DACA students and ensure a safe work environment on all our campuses.
Other lessons we can learn from our UTLA colleagues:
- We must continue to push on a state level for increased funding for community colleges.
- We must continue to build meaningful community/labor partnerships.
- We must continue to hold our elected Board of Trustees accountable for making decisions that fund programs that promote student success and ensure a successful bond building program with industry-leading environmental standards and safety protections.
- We must continue to be the faculty’s eyes and ears on the campuses and ensure our voice is heard in shared governance decision-making on the campus level.
And we must do what we do best: negotiate for the common good of our members, our students, our communities. To learn these lessons and achieve our goals Guild members need to be ALL IN! We’re counting on you.