UTLA Rally for a Raise November 13th
At the Schools with Audrey Linden
United Teachers of Los Angeles held a very successful “Rally for a Raise” Wednesday, November 13th at LAUSD’s Beaudry headquarters. Concern had been expressed that because elementary school teachers had parent conferences, many would have to miss the Rally. But, there was a “sea of red” with about 1,500 plus teachers, parents, and students united in a show of support. And this “Red Sea” was not about to be parted. This is not really considered a raise in view of the fact that teachers went without COLA increases, and annual raises for 2,467 days. Teachers, instead endured pay cuts in the form of furlough days, which translate to “unpaid” leave days and a shortened school year which went from 200 days to 180 days of instructional time. Teachers were shortchanged as were their students.
The street in front of the Beaudry headquarters was filled with teachers, parents, and students from 3rd street to 4th street. There was a stage set up at the corner of Beaudry and 4th Street. Red glowing whistles, red glow sticks, and signs that read “It’s About Time for A Pay Raise” were handed out to the enthusiastic crowd. Many had made their own signs to reflect the other very important issues which are reduced class size, re-staffing to 2008 levels, and hiring back of RIFed and Displaced teachers. One such sign read, “56 Students in One Class. LAUSD, Shame on You.” “One Billion for I Pads, Zero for teachers.” One teacher had made a hat of a huge dollar bill on her head and her sign read, “Put the Money Where It Matters.” There was humor evident even in the seriousness of the issues.
Another UTLA sign read, “I Don’t Want to Strike, But I Will”. That signage came into question as teachers in front of the stage shouted loud and clearly, “I want to strike.” They changed the chant from “Fight, Fight, Fight” to “Strike, Strike, Strike.”
Chants were led by teacher Regina Bryant, who was on the stage with a bullhorn. The music was amplified to all and was the Chambers Brothers’ iconic song, “Time,”which was in sync to the overall theme. President Warren Fletcher came onstage with two strong supporters. Linda Perez is the Chapter President of LA 500 of the California School Employees Association or CSEA. Chris Hannan is the Council Representative of L. A./ Orange County Builders and Construction Trade Council. Both spoke of their support for teachers as did UTLA officer, Mary Jan Roberts or “MJ. “
The news media from television stations was present and media from the Los Angeles Times. Unfortunately, apparently, the Rally was preempted by the truck that almost exploded on the freeway, the freeway closure, and the finding of the 4 bodies in a shallow grave. The L A Times did get a huge picture of unified supporters in their paper the following day. And, the Daily News also gave coverage in pictures, seven of which were on line.
UTLA President, Warren Fletcher did not have to warm this crowd up when he came onstage at 5:00 PM. Fletcher went over the facts about no raise in seven years. I liked these seven years to the “seven lean years” in the Bible story. Now it is time for the “seven fat years” to follow.
It is the teachers, who after putting in a full days’ work, did phone banking to work for the passage of Proposition 30, which did pass. The money from Proposition 30 was to be used for class size reduction, re-staffing to 2008 levels, rehiring of RIFed and Displaced teachers, and the long overdue correction of payroll cuts into a raise. Fletcher said, “We cannot allow the Superintendent to squander Proposition 30 funds on pet projects while we suffer.”
It is more than disappointing that to date, the money has not been used for these very important issues. The teachers are concerned LAUSD will spend the money elsewhere and not on the teachers or students. There is concern that money earmarked, for the classroom which the teachers worked hard for, will not go to the classroom.
Fletcher did clarify that there were other issues and mentioned the reduced class size, re-staffing to 2008, and rehiring of teachers. Human Services, school psychologists, nurses, librarians, and Adult Ed were hard hit during the “seven lean years.” It was the actor, Cuba Gooding, who in the film, “Jerry Maguire” coined the phrase, “show me the money.” Fletcher reiterated ““The money is there.”
Mary Jan Roberts, UTLA NEA Vice President, “M. J. Roberts also spoke briefly and not only spoke of the issues teachers are asking for but also spoke for the substitute teachers who need to get their hundred days in order to secure their benefits. If teachers’ jobs are restored and class sizes reduced, those teachers now in the substitute pool will be back in their classes and substitutes will get their assignments.
Money for the IPad rollout is Bond Money and should not have an impact on the pay raise and other issues. When schools need repair in years to come, that will be another issue to be dealt with.
UTLA President, Warren Fletcher asked the teachers if they were willing to fight. Their answer shouted was “yes”. Now, the question remains if Fletcher is willing to lead the teachers in a fight that could result in a strike. A teacher nearby yelled, “What is the plan of action?” What efforts toward mobilization will be taken and when?
Questions remain as to how the negotiations have been proceeding? Has any figure been put on the table? What is acceptable and what is not?
Those who are reading this, support your hardworking and dedicated teachers, who have gone without so much as a COLA increase or a raise for seven years. Contact the Board of Education members and let them know you support not only a raise for your teachers, but reduced class size, re-staffing to 2008, and rehiring of teachers.
The next Rally will be to support the “housed teachers” on Monday, December 9th at 4:00 P. M. here will be four regional rallys. Go to www.utla.net/housedteacherrally for information.
Here are the Board members email addresses:
Bennett Kayser BoardDistrict5@lausd.net
213-241-5555 fax 213-241-8467
Steve Zimmer email@example.com
213-241-6387 fax 213-213-241-8453
Monica Ratliff firstname.lastname@example.org
213-241-6388 fax 213-241-8451
Dr. Richard Vladovic, President Richard.email@example.com
213-241-6385 fax 213-241-8452
Marguerite La Motte firstname.lastname@example.org
213-241-6382 fax 213-241-8441
Tamar Galatzan email@example.com
213-241-6386 fax 213-241-8979
Monica Garcia firstname.lastname@example.org
213-241-6180 fax 213-241-8459
Your children count. Your teachers count. “Raise us up”.
November 17, 2013