Over 30,000 LA teachers strike for fair conditions
Teachers in Los Angeles, USA, are fighting for fair conditions as 32,000 walked off the job indefinitely on 14 January 2019, taking strike action for the first time since 1989.
United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union members resolved to take the strike action over significantly large class sizes, lack of resources in their classrooms and attacks on their profession, following two years of negotiations with their employer.
On 11 January, three days before the strike, the school district employer offered UTLA an inadequate proposal that included:
- Tying salary increases to the cutting of healthcare for new employees.
- Raising class sizes permanently, as high as 39 in elementary and 46 in secondary.
- Protecting the district’s unilateral authority to raise class sizes even beyond their proposed caps of 39 and 46.
- Hurting vulnerable students by allowing unilateral increases to special education caseloads.
- Ignoring the need for more adult supervision in schools by offering roughly one new person per school site for only one year.
- Neglecting bilingual education, early education, and adult education.
The employer’s representative also failed to be present at two of the three bargaining meetings that occurred with UTLA that week.
“We have a non-educator investment banker as superintendent who is starving our schools and accelerating privatisation,” UTLA officials said.
“Now is the moment for action to push back on this threat.”
Action shows need to Change The Rules globally
The issues facing Los Angeles teachers are not dissimilar to those of Australian teachers – and workers generally – IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said.
“It’s an issue related to power and the fact that too much of it now lies in the hands of employers,” Mr Burke said.
“In the last few years we have seen case after case of employers who – with the law on their side – have refused to bargain with their employees; who have sought to strip working conditions by terminating agreements; and who have increased the use of contracts and insecure employment in this country.
“Australia’s industrial laws are stacked against workers – including IEUA-QNT members – and we need to change them.
“Unless we change the rules we will continue to see growing inequality across Australia – something which is already at a 70-year high.
“Unless we change the rules we will continue to see the unscrupulous rise of insecure work which is leading our members and their families into a future of uncertainty and stress.
“Unless we change the rules we will continue to see women workers retiring with close to 40% less superannuation than men – putting them at greater risk of poverty in their later years.
“Our movement’s fight to change the industrial laws in Australia seeks to address these issues.
“This year all Australians have the chance to decide the kind of future we want as workers and as members of our community.
“It’s clear the rules are broken. Let’s make sure they change,” Mr Burke said.
Read more about how the union movement is fighting to Change the Rules here.
Image source: UTLA