Los Angeles Teachers’ Union Postpones Strike to Avert Court-Ordered Delay

United Teachers Los Angeles leaders are joined by thousands of teachers, who may go on strike against the nation's second-largest school district next month, as they march past the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. The union contends that the district is hoarding a …
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
DR. SUSAN BERRY

United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) has postponed its plans to strike Thursday in order to avert a possible court-ordered delay if a judge ruled the union had not given legal proper notice of a strike.

UTLA – supported by national and state teachers’ unions – threatened to have its 35,000 members strike if the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) did not agree to its demands for higher pay and smaller class sizes.

According to Fox News, UTLA officials dismissed concerns they would have lost a court battle but decided to postpone the strike to avoid confusion and provide more time for parents to prepare for teachers to not be in school.

“If we don’t see a serious proposal, on Monday, Jan. 14th, we will strike,” said Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTLA president, according to Politico. Caputo-Pearl said his union is “not impressed with the seriousness on the part of the district”:

The union has demanded a 6.5 percent pay raise, retroactive to 2017, that would take effect in its entirety immediately. The school district has offered a six percent raise over the first two years of a three-year contract. Both proposals would include health care fully paid for by the school district and a pension plan.

Currently, Los Angeles teachers earn between $44,000 and $86,000 a year depending on their education and experience, according to the county’s Office of Education. The average teacher salary is $75,000.

Led by Superintendent Austin Beutner, an investment banker, LAUSD says the union’s demands would lead the district into bankruptcy.

Schools would remain open if a strike does materialize. The school district has hired hundreds of substitutes to replace striking teachers if necessary.

UTLA said the district has been “irresponsible” in hiring substitutes and urged parents to keep their children at home if the union goes forward with a strike:

Under the banner of the #RedForEd movement, a “resistance” campaign with Marxist underpinnings, the national teachers’ unions and the California Teachers Association are supporting UTLA.

A string of teacher strikes arose in states throughout the country last year, including Arizona, where #RedForEd leader and Marxist teacher Noah Karvelis claimed, “Teaching is political.”

In November 2017, Karvelis tweeted a reading recommendation for his fellow teachers: A Pedagogy of Anticapitalist Antiracism: Whiteness, Neoliberalism, and Resistance in Education by Zachary A. Casey:

In April 2018, Karvelis gave an interview – while sitting in his public school classroom with students present – about #RedForEd to Radio Sputnik, which is owned and operated by the Russian government. During the interview, listeners could hear the school bells — which are noted by the host — and Karvelis, a music teacher, admitted students were present in his classroom while he gave the interview.

The Daily Beast reported in February 2018 that “internal documents show that guests never make it onto [Radio Sputnik’s] airwaves without the approval of a state-owned media organ close to Russia President Vladimir Putin.”

Failed Democrat presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has tweeted that he stands “in solidarity” with the Los Angeles teachers’ union:

According to Fox News, Larry Sand, a retired Los Angeles and New York City teacher, who heads the California Teachers Empowerment Network, said he believes UTLA is using the threat of a strike as a public “sales pitch” for organized labor. Since the Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which banned public sector unions from compelling non-members to pay dues because it violated their First Amendment rights, teachers can no longer be forced to join the unions.

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