Editorial: We support UTLA proposed teacher strike


Alliana Samonte

History and Government teacher Francisco Ortega hands out fliers on Oct. 9 to inform parents about the possible teacher strike.

Twenty-nine years ago, teachers from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)  went on a historic strike for nine days to protest unfair pay. Today, teachers from LAUSD may take the same path in January with an expected strike against the district.

In mid-November, the final phase of fact-finding between LAUSD and the Unified Teacher’s Los Angeles (UTLA) union began. The three-member fact-finding panel consisted of chosen representatives from LAUSD, UTLA and the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). LAUSD elected Littler Mendelson Attorney Adam Fiss, UTLA chose Vern Gates who works for the California Teachers Association Negotiations and Organizational Development Department and PERB had David A. Weinberg represent them as he previously served for 17 years as a mediator for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

The panel has 30 days to issue a report of its recommendations where LAUSD can then submit its final offer to the union. Yet, the union can deny it and impose a strike that would happen after winter break.

The union has continued to fairly bargain with LAUSD over the past 18 months. However, the district has persistently ignored the proposals they put forth. The reason behind the strike is not based solely on salary, but also on smaller class sizes, increased school safety, less unnecessary testing and more school funding. Yet LAUSD has said they are unable to fulfill the needs as they can’t afford it.

We support the proposed strike as schools like Daniel Pearl Magnet High School lack staff and funding. And even as a small school, class sizes are increasing as the school cannot afford to maintain positions. Just last month, the school eliminated a teaching position due to a rejected enrollment appeal to LAUSD. Now, ninth graders have been left without an official teacher and several other teachers are expected to pick up an extra class next semester, interfering with courses already in session and further increasing class sizes.

Even more so, the school only has a nurse one day a week making it insufficient to care for the health needs of students. The school has to pay to keep our Guidance Counselor Martina Torres on for the full week as the district only pays for her to be here two days a week. Torres provides invaluable services to students and has been fundamental in ensuring a 100 percent graduation rate. Our school should not have to scrounge for funds to keep her on for the remaining three days.

College Counselor Linda Zimring also regularly volunteers on Thursdays to help students with decisions regarding college and future plans. As students are pushed to attend college after high school, it’s ridiculous how little help there is from the district in providing guidance for it.

For a district that’s the second largest in the nation and in one of the wealthiest states of the U.S., it’s unbelievable how little students are cared about. Teachers within LAUSD have been working without a contract since July 2017 and haven’t received a raise since 2015. The 6.5 percent pay increase is more than reasonable. And with the cost of living rising within Los Angeles, it’s important that LAUSD can make sure that its workers are able to stay afloat.

Teachers are the backbones of every campus and deserve to be treated fairly. If LAUSD can’t seem to understand how hard teachers work every day and come to terms with their needs, a strike is needed to remind them of who really keeps the district running.