When a fact-finding panel was unable to bring the Los Angeles Unified District and United Teachers of Los Angeles together, a strike seems likely on Jan. 10 (“Fact-finding at L.A. Unified,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 20). UTLA’s demands are familiar: higher salaries, smaller classes, more librarians and nurses. The district claims it does not have the money to satisfy all of the demands.
But that argument is nothing new. I participated in the first strike in 1970 by the newly formed UTLA and once again in 1989. Both times the money was miraculously found at the last minute, but not before the commitment of UTLA was severely tested.
The strike I remember most vividly was in 1970, which lasted almost five weeks. I walked the picket line and tightened my belt as it dragged on. But the lack of a collective bargaining law led the courts to declare the agreement null and void.
It was only in 1975 when the Rodda Act became law that both sides had to bargain in good faith and agree to mediation. As a result, the 1989 strike lasted only nine days and resulted in an historic three-year contract, including successive yearly salary increases of eight percent each and school site decision-making.
Once again, the LAUSD is claiming that it lacks the money. It’s little wonder that UTLA doesn’t believe it. If that is ever going to change, it has to begin with greater honesty on the part of the district. Otherwise, the adversarial situation will continue unabated.
(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)