The latest from Los Angeles, where a strike is a real possibility and a clueless hedge fund manager is superintendent.

Subject: UTLA demands LAUSD accept mediation dates immediately

UTLA demands LAUSD accept mediation dates immediately

UTLA continues our demand that LAUSD stop stalling and agree to start the mediation process immediately. UTLA has made it clear that we’re ready and willing to meet for mediation on August 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, & 31. However, Austin Beutner and the district have basically ignored their legal and moral obligation to participate and refused to meet until September 27.

“We find it upsetting that the top public employee for LAUSD has tried to dodge the state mediation process, which labor laws are built on, which protects UTLA members, and frankly is the only way to guarantee that the legal rules of bargaining will be followed by someone who brags about breaking rules all the time,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl.

As UTLA members gear up for an important strike authorization vote beginning this week, Supt. Beutner continues a campaign of blaming educators and spreading misinformation. Some of these false claims have landed in media reports. They include:

Claim: Beutner is not stalling mediation.
Fact: The district has refused to meet for state mediation date until 56 days (Sept. 27) after a mediator was first appointed on Aug. 2. This is unacceptable.

Claim: A “pact” has been forged between Beutner and the UTLA president.
Fact: There has been no progress made toward an agreement. Beutner, who is accustomed to back-door deal making as a multi-millionaire hedge-fund capitalist, hasn’t grasped the fact that he’s dealing with a 34,000-member union that demands a transparent and legal collective bargaining process.

Claim: Beutner offered UTLA members a 6% raise and proposed an increase in staffing and lower class sizes.
Fact: Neither Beutner nor LAUSD has made any of these proposals. In fact, the district gave very few proposals or counterproposals through 19 bargaining sessions over 17 months. That’s why there are more than two dozen issues that have to be bargained, many of which wouldn’t cost the district more money.

Claim: UTLA does not want magnet schools.
Fact: UTLA is not against magnet schools. One of the keys to a successful magnet conversion is stakeholder buy-in, so our proposal calls for a 60% vote by the educators at a school to endorse the magnet. We want guardrails in place so the district doesn’t exploit the magnet process to remove teachers who are willing to speak up on behalf of students, question the leadership of the school, or express different opinions about the direction of the conversion.

“All indications point to the fact that Beutner does not believe educators should have a say in their own future or the future of our students and communities,” said Arlene Inouye, chair of the UTLA Bargaining Team. “That goes against the very nature of bargaining, which allows a democratic process for union members to create better working conditions for themselves and a better learning environment for our students.”

What adds to this insult, Caputo-Pearl says, is that today the school board voted down Board Member Scott Schmerlson’s resolution on the interim BD5 appointment of Jackie Goldberg, a veteran educator and former school board member. Instead, Nick Melvoin and Monica Garcia proposed that BD5 residents to submit applications for the job, an orchestrated attempt to appear open and transparent. The board would appoint the candidate at the Sept. 11 meeting. The vote was deadlocked 3-3.

“The reason they are appointing an interim board member is because the entire tenure of Ref Rodriguez was ill-gotten, yet the charter-lobby-backed board majority did not cry foul over this because it served their purposes,” Caputo-Pearl said.

“This smacks of hypocrisy,” he said. “The people of BD 5 had to endure a year-long insult to democracy while Ref Rodriguez faced felony charges tied to campaign finance money laundering. He was kept on the board by the same people who are now making overtures for transparency and accountability.”

As this cloud of corruption hung over the school board, Rodriguez was kept on for his swing vote, to have a prominent role in deciding the rules and policies that govern the nation’s second-largest school district. His vote was crucial in the appointment of Beutner, a mega-wealthy investment banker with no experience as an educator.

UTLA reiterates our demand that any interim appointment to BD5 seat be a true advocate for public education, not beholden to CCSA, and one who truly respects and values transparency and accountability, until a special election can be held.


What: UTLA strike authorization vote
When: Thursday, Aug. 23
Time: 3 PM

For more information:
Anna Bakalis, UTLA Communications Director
(213) 305-9654 (c)