Archives for category: Unions

There is a charter school in San Diego called the Gompers Preparatory Academy. Since 2018, its private management has been fighting teachers who want to form a union. When the COVID crisis struck and the state planned budget cuts, Gompers laid off more than a third of the staff. By coincidence (!), nearly all the teachers laid off were the very ones who wanted to form a union!

Does the charter management know who Samuel Gompers was? Hint: the first president of the American Federation of Labor and a pioneer of the union movement.

Gompers Preparatory Academy announced Monday it had rescinded a decision made two weeks ago to lay off more than a third of the school’s teachers because of state budget cuts.

The layoffs would have increased class sizes from 19 students to 28 at the public charter school in southeastern San Diego. Ninety percent of Gompers students are socioeconomically disadvantaged, and some may be the first in their families to attend college, the school has said.

Some teachers had criticized the layoffs as an attempt to end their recently formed union…

Nearly all teachers who received layoff notices last month were union supporters, a San Diego Education Association spokesperson previously told inewsource. Gompers leaders had maintained the cuts were necessary and said decisions were based on seniority.

For immediate release
July 10, 2020
Media Contact
Anna Bakalis 213-305-9654

POLL Results: 83% of UTLA members say LAUSD schools should not physically reopen August 18

Out of the more than 18,000 UTLA members who submitted responses to our informal poll in less than 12 hours, 83% agree with the UTLA Board of Directors and Bargaining Team that LAUSD should not physically reopen schools on August 18.

Because of the overwhelming response to the online member poll, the deadline to submit responses was extended to 8 pm. There were technical issues related to some aggressive spam filters that interfered with delivery and the poll function. The poll asked one question: Do you agree with the UTLA Board of Directors and UTLA Bargaining Team that LAUSD should not physically reopen school campuses on August 18th?

“It is hitting us hard to think we may not be back with our students in the fall,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said. “And we know this is hard on our students and their parents, so many of whom have stepped up as our partners in teaching while struggling with the economic fallout of this crisis. But safety must come first, along with a commitment to focus on strengthening distance learning.”

The spike in COVID cases — with California recording its highest one-day virus death toll this week — has changed the calculations for when it is safe to go back to schools. Even before the surge, there were serious issues with starting the school year on physical campuses. State and federal governments have not provided the resources or funds to start school safely, and there is not enough time for the district to put together the detailed, rigorous plans that must be in place to reopen our sites.

UTLA is bargaining with the school district and we have another bargaining session scheduled with LAUSD next week.

Other countries that have reopened schools — such as New Zealand, Vietnam, and Germany — did so only after they had flattened the curve, accompanied by broad societal preparedness, including rapid case identification, contact tracing, and isolation. The U.S. is not even close to meeting these benchmarks.

Yesterday, the United Teachers of Los Angeles scores a big victory, and so did the teachers in five charter schools, who won the right to unionize.

For Immediate Release

May 22, 2020

Media Contact:

Anna Bakalis, 213-305-9654

PERB rules in UTLA’s favor, the union will now represent all educators at five Alliance charter schools

After a two-year legal battle, on Thursday, May 21, the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) certified UTLA as the exclusive collective bargaining representative of educators at the five Alliance charter schools that filed for union recognition:

Alliance College-Ready Middle Academy 5
Alliance Judy Ivie Burton Technology Academy High School
Alliance Gertz-Ressler/Richard Merkin 6-12 Complex
Alliance Leichtman Levine Family Foundation Environmental Science High School
Alliance Morgan McKinzie High School…

“Now that PERB has made it clear that we filed appropriately at our schools, we’re ready to sit down at the bargaining table,” said Kemberlee Hooper, a Physical Education teacher at Gertz-Merkin. “ I’m excited that we’ll have an equal voice in decision making, and I look forward to bargaining over issues like professional developments and a fair and meaningful evaluation process.”

Alliance has been fighting PERB certification since educators at three schools filed for union recognition in May 2018, with two more filing in 2019. But now with this decision, Alliance educators have prevailed after a two-year legal delay intended by Alliance to deny educators their right to bargain and to organize with UTLA. Alliance educators are ready to move forward. They urge Alliance to start setting a better example for their students and the Alliance community by respecting PERB’s decision and its own educators.

Particularly in this unprecedented time, it’s more important than ever that educators have an equal voice in decisions impacting their students, their schools, and their profession. Alliance educators simply want to sit down with Alliance as real decision-making partners and together decide what will make their schools the best place to work and learn.

Alliance educators look forward to bargaining at five union schools and are committed to organizing at all Alliance schools.


For Immediate Release
April 29, 2020

Contact:
Andrew Crook
607-280-6603
acrook@aft.org
http://www.aft.org

AFT Launches Landmark Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities

Union issues blueprint for imagining a new normal for public education, public health
and our economy in the age of COVID-19

WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers has released a detailed road map that, in the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine, charts a path to safely and responsibly reopen school buildings and other institutions crucial to the well-being and economic vitality of our communities.

The 20-page, science-based “Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities” sprung from an intense collaboration of public health professionals, union leaders and frontline workers to prepare for what happens next in the period between flattening the curve and truly eradicating the virus.

It features five core pillars that inform our decision to reopen the country based on the science as well as educator and healthcare expertise—not on politics or wishful thinking.

To gradually reopen, we need to:

1. Maintain physical distancing until the number of new cases declines for at least 14 consecutive days. Reducing the number of new cases is a prerequisite for transitioning to reopening plans on a community-by-community basis.

2. Put in place the infrastructure and resources to test, trace and isolate new cases. Transitioning from community-focused physical distancing and stay-in-place orders to case-specific interventions requires ramping up the capacity to test, trace and isolate each new case.

3.​ Deploy the public health tools that prevent the virus’ spread and align them with education strategies that meet the needs of students.

4. ​Involve workers, unions, parents and communities in all planning. Each workplace and community faces unique challenges related to COVID-19. To ensure that reopening plans address those challenges, broad worker and community involvement is necessary. They must be engaged, educated and empowered.

5.​ Invest in recovery: Do not abandon America’s communities or forfeit America’s future. These interventions will require more—not less—investment in public health and in our schools, universities, hospitals, and local and state governments. Strengthening communities should be a priority in the recovery.

The blueprint acknowledges Americans’ eagerness to return to some semblance of “normal.” But to do so, we must meet an unprecedented challenge: figuring out how to reimagine our society and the physical places we hold dear—public schools, places of worship, workplaces, restaurants and more—in ways that put our ultimate priorities first: the safety and well-being of working families, especially frontline workers, and the economic health of society.

Our schools, in addition to educating students and acting as centers of the community, enable parents to work outside the home, meaning their safe reopening is a pivotal—if not the most pivotal—factor in remaking the country.

The comprehensive document addresses complexities and provides specific guidance for transitioning from lockdowns to other public health approaches. And it is the only plan we know of that marries the instructional and social-emotional needs of students and the logistics of programming in schools with the imperative to adopt public health tools that prevent viral transmission.

It shows how, in response to the crisis, we must plan and align logistics, educational strategies and public health approaches into one coherent response. And it is expected to evolve as the data, and the facts, change.

AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “America is staring down a singular challenge that will require all of us to come together and negotiate a safe path forward. By drawing on facts and science, and the expertise of educators and healthcare practitioners, we have drafted a bold five-point plan that aligns necessary public health tools, student instructional needs and logistics to gradually—but safely, equitably and intentionally—reopen our schools and communities.

“Our blueprint serves as a stark contrast to the conflicting guidance, bluster and lies of the Trump administration. The input of educators and healthcare workers, as well as parents, is crucial in making any reopening plan work. They are the eyes and ears, and are indispensable in making any plan work safely and effectively. We hope this blueprint will be the start of a real discussion on reopening schools, universities and other workplaces that allows our workers and families not only to dream of a safe and welcoming future, but to realize it.”

The plan can be read here.

Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten: http://twitter.com/rweingarten

The American Federation of Teachers is a union of 1.7 million professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.

Randi Weingarten PRESIDENT Lorretta Johnson SECRETARY-TREASURER Evelyn DeJesus EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT

American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
Communications Department • 555 New Jersey Ave. N.W. • Washington, DC 20001 • T: 202-879-4458 • F: 202-879-4580 • http://www.aft.org

AFT Teachers • AFT PSRP • AFT Higher Education • AFT Public Employees • AFT Nurses and Health Professionals

Randi Weingarten of the AFT and Lily Eskelsen Garcia of the NEA warned that teachers would take action if schools were opened before it was safe to do so.

The nation’s two biggest teachers unions say they would consider strikes or major protests if schools reopen without the proper safety measures in place or against the advice of medical experts — raising the possibility of yet more school disruptions.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, previewing a reopening plan first with POLITICO, said funding is needed for a host of public health measures for schools, including personal protective equipment. Collective bargaining, strong enforcement of safety standards and protections from retaliation will be important for teachers and staff so they feel safe to speak up as schools try new approaches, she said.

If schools are reopened without proper safety measures, “you scream bloody murder,” Weingarten said. “And you do everything you can to … use your public megaphones.”

Teachers are united after more than two years of strikes for more state funding and they have “tremendous power” as advocates for children’s safety, said Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association. She didn’t rule out strikes if state leaders move prematurely on a reopening of schools, and she said she believes parents would protest too.

The National Education Association has endorsed Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination for president.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Joe Biden continued to consolidate support in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination today when he won the endorsement of the National Education Assn., the country’s largest labor union. With 3 million members, the union’s announcement will probably accelerate Biden’s effort to cement his standing as the Democratic front-runner.

(FORGIVE MY SENIOR MOMENT–BEING SO UPSET WITH THE DAY’S NEWS, I MISTAKENLY PLACED ST. PAUL IN THE WRONG STATE, WHEN I KNOW IT IS ONE OF THE TWIN CITIES OF MINNESOTA. I HAVE LEARNED TO OWN MY MISTAKES.)

The teachers of St. Paul, Minnesota, are on strike. Their number one demand is the expansion of mental health services and counseling for their students. The #Red4Ed movement continues, as teachers become first-line protectors of their students.

Teachers and support staff in Saint Paul, Minnesota, are on strike for the first time since 1946.

The union says students need more counseling and mental health support than the district and current staff can provide.

The strikers are demanding a mental health team at every school. The team would include social workers, psychologists, nurses, and behavior intervention specialists, in numbers proportional to the number of students in the school.

Despite marathon bargaining sessions over the weekend, the district made no real movement on the core issues. The union rejected the district’s last-minute offer to call off the strike and take the contract dispute to arbitration instead.

“There are so many kids with so many issues,” said middle school teacher Leah Van Dassor. “Kids are depressed because they have problems at home. They don’t have anyone to talk to.”

St. Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE) Vice President Erica Schatzlein sees a wide range of needs in her work as an elementary teacher with English language learners.

“A students that had a parent pass away, instead of acting out, becomes completely withdrawn,” she said. A newly homeless student “has a meltdown, and I have to evacuate the classroom.”

In addition to its mental health demands, the union is asking for more bilingual teacher’s aides and limits on class size for special education.

“It’s too bad that all these important social services fall on the shoulder of the schools, but they do,” said Van Dassor, who is also on the bargaining team. “We have to try to figure out a way to help.”

Sarah Lahm writes here that teachers in St. Paul, Minnesota, are on the verge of striking to secure better funding for the public schools and their students.

In the early morning of February 26, a chill hung in the air as a line of teachers and school support staffers clad in bright red union hats, jackets or some combination thereof stood on a busy street corner outside of Highland Park Middle School in St. Paul, Minnesota.

As cars sped past, some with horns blaring in support, the teachers and school workers—who are members of the St. Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE)—hoisted signs proclaiming their willingness to fight on behalf of students.

SPFE represents more than 3,500 teachers, education assistants and school and community support staff members. Minnesota state law requires districts to negotiate with their unionized employees every two years, and the current round of contract talks between SPFE and the St. Paul Public Schools, under the leadership of Superintendent Joe Gothard, has been going on since last May.

Now, SPFE President Nick Faber says the union and the students and families they serve can no longer wait for Gothard and his team to step up and negotiate in good faith. On February 20, a majority of SPFE members voted to authorize a strike against the St. Paul Public Schools.

If an agreement between the union and the school district is not reached by March 10, thousands of SPFE members will walk off the job for the first time since 1946.

The key contract items SPFE is pushing for include fully staffed mental health teams in all schools, a greater investment in special education staffing and programming, and an increase in the number of multilingual staff members.

This puts the union squarely in line with other social justice-oriented labor movements that have been revived in recent years, as seen in events such as the teacher strikes in Chicago and Los Angeles in 2019. Like SPFE, the Chicago and Los Angeles unions also advocated for more than the typical bread-and-butter issues of union contracts, such as salary increases and seniority rights, and additionally pushed for better living and learning conditions for students.

The United Teachers of Los Angeles is militantly fighting back against the privatizers who are attacking public schools and seek to divert public money to charters and vouchers. The UTLA embodies Resistance to privatization and to those who oppose full funding of Los Angeles’ public schools.

UTLA has created a billboard portraying the “Corporate Special Interests Vs. Our Public Schools.”

Open the link to see the billboard.

The billboard portrays Donald Trump, Betsy DeVos, and others who are undermining the funding of public schools attended by the majority of students.

Los Angeles— United Teachers Los Angeles has launched a new phase of the “We Are Public Schools” campaign that includes more than 75 billboards across LA. One billboard features Donald Trump and posted the same day he attacked teachers and called public schools “failed government schools” in his State of the Union speech.

The billboard, overlooks Highway 5 heading into downtown LA – one of the most viewed billboards in the country. It shines a light on Trump and those who are trying to buy our elections, divide our schools into winners and losers, and take important funding away from our neighborhood public schools.

“Billionaires and corporate special interests are not a part of our school communities, yet they have an undue influence on our elections and the direction of our neighborhood public schools,” said Kimberly Hinkston, an early childhood educator at Wilton Place Early Education Center. “It’s time to stand up against privatization and vote for the needs of our communities over the politics of fear and hate.”

Dozens of other billboards highlight the needs of our students and real-life stories of UTLA members — including classroom teachers, arts teachers, teacher librarians, nurses, counselors, psychiatric social workers, pupil services and attendance counselors, academic counselors as well as adult and bilingual education professionals. Read more at www.WeArePublicSchools.org

UTLA is also calling on our communities to elect truly pro-public education candidates on March 3 to the LAUSD School Board and support Jackie Goldberg in BD5, Patricia Castellanos in BD7, Scott Schmerelson in BD5 and George McKenna in BD1. These candidates will stand with L.A. students, parents and educators to defend our schools against the corporate charter industry.

We know that 40 years of privatization schemes and disinvestment in public education cannot be fixed overnight or with one strike. That’s why UTLA is back at the bargaining table now for more special education staffing and support, including lower caseloads and more school psychologists; more resources for bilingual education; a fair and competitive salary for educators; and increased mental health staffing and resources for all students. California is the wealthiest state in the nation yet ranks 39th out of 50 in per-pupil funding.

Those who are trying to attack public education and who are featured in the Trump billboard are:

Donald Trump: Most dangerous President in modern history. In his State of the Union on Feb. 4, Trump declared war on public schools and says he wants more taxpayer money to fund privatization and voucher schemes. He continues his destructive, racist polices and attacks on women, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQ+ and our most vulnerable communities.

Betsy DeVos:  In her role as the secretary of the Department of Education, she calls American public schools a “dead end.” In 2018 DeVos cut federal funding of public education by $9 billion, at the same time, allocating $440 million to the Charter Schools Program which also subsidizes school vouchers.

Rob Walton: The 17th richest person in the world and has an estimated net worth of $53 billion. The Walton Foundation is the single largest private funder of charter schools and vouchers in the US. In just 2018 alone, the Walton Foundation spent $210 million to fight unions and promote privatization of our public schools.

Ben Austin: Lead strategist in the war against public education in LA and lobbyist for California Charter Schools Association. In a leaked confidential memo, sent 6 days after UTLA’s successful strike, Austin lays out a plan to buy the LAUSD School Board election, sue LAUSD in order to “trump district policy and even UTLA contract rights” and “rebrand education reform as progressive” by “funding Black and Latino civil rights and community groups.”

Bill Bloomfield. Conservative businessman has funneled more than $500,000 in a smear campaign against Jackie Goldberg in BD 5. Bloomfield, also supporting CCSA candidates in BD 3 and BD 7. He also funneled $3.5 million into a failed campaign to elect Marshall Tuck as State Superintendent.

Robert Gutierrez: In his role as the president & CEO of the California Taxpayers Association, has funneled $139,000 to oppose the ballot initiative Schools and Communities First which would bring in much-needed funding to our public schools; continues to spread lies and misinformation about SCF in order to protect wealthy corporations from paying their fair share in taxes.

Maria Salinas: In her role as the president & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, vehemently opposed Measure EE, which would have brought in $500 million in much-needed money to our classrooms.

 

Reclaim Board of Ed political Disclaimer
Ad paid for by Students, Parents and Educators in Support of Castellanos, Goldberg, McKenna, and Schmerelson for School Board 2020, Sponsored by Teachers Unions, Including United Teachers Los Angeles. Committee major funding from: Political Action Council of Educators – United Teachers Los Angeles American Federation of Teachers Solidarity Committee

National Education Association Advocacy Fund

This ad was not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.

 

 

Despite my ongoing struggle to overcome the remnants of the flu, I managed to get through an event last night with the United Educators of San Francisco. I have become very comfortable with a new format, in which I don’t give a speech but instead engage in conversation with the interlocutor. Last night, my partner was Susan Solomon, the union president. I learned from her about the difficulty that teachers have affording a place to live in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. A one-bedroom apartment typically costs about $3,500 a month, she said. Most teachers have long commutes, and many move to districts where living costs are affordable.

Teachers in San Francisco seem hopeful, as they enter contract negotiations, because the elected school board has their back. The board banned TFA because it did not want a continuing influx of inexperienced, unprepared teachers to instruct the highest-needs students. The district has few charters and doesn’t want more. What it wants is more funding from the state. Even though California is one of the richest states in the nation, its per-pupil spending is about at the national median, or somewhat below. Last year when I checked, I found that California’s per-pupil funding on par with South Carolina.

As you walk through this affluent, booming city, it’s hard to understand why its schools are underfunded. Its teacher salaries are “high” compared to poor states, but the cost of living is sky-high.

I especially enjoyed meeting school board member Alison Collins, who worked closely with Julian Vasquez Heilig and Roxana Marachi, both NPE board members, to support the NAACP call for a charter moratorium in 2016. She is a dynamo.

The weather in San Francisco was picture-perfect. Sunny, in the 60s. Perfect for everything. One morning we took the trip to Alcatraz, “the Rock.” The weather and the boat trip were delightful. I found the historic prison very depressing. Men trapped for years in squalid little cells. The pervasive sense of hopelessness, rage, and despair lingered in the air.