I joined the picket lines in Oakland on three different mornings.
On the first day of the strike, teachers brought a boom box and
we danced and sang on the line. Another day, at a different
school, a parent brought a folding table and fed us tangerines,
string cheese, mountains of cinnamon and chocolate croissants and
UTLA’s fight to save public education resonated far and
wide. Messages of solidarity and selfies of fist-pumping teachers
poured in from Kentucky to Canada. Union locals across Los
Angeles set up support networks for more than 200 LAUSD schools.
For Writers Guild members, joining teachers on picket lines was
an opportunity to pay back their mentors.
United Teachers Los Angeles has fought for nearly 50
years to give parents a greater voice in how their children’s
schools are run. In recent years, UTLA stepped up its outreach by
hiring community organizers, building coalitions, and working
with supporters in changing neighborhoods.
Those efforts bore fruit in January, when thousands of
parents joined teachers on picket lines across the
700-square-mile school district to fight for “the schools our
Manual Arts High School has a proud 109-year history.
Alumni include painter Jackson Pollock, actor Paul Winfield, and
tennis champion Richard “Pancho” Gonzalez. Former teacher Josh
Pechthalt was shaped by – and has helped to reshape – the South
CFT President Josh Pechthalt was a student at Fairfax High in
1970, when United Teachers Los Angeles struck for nearly a month.
He later taught social studies at Manual Arts High School for
more than 20 years, and was on the front lines in 1989, when UTLA
struck a second time.
During the strike, hundreds of retired L.A. teachers returned to their former schools to continue the fight for public education. One veteran of the two previous strikes said back then UTLA was up against an intransigent district, but didn’t have to face billionaires and unrestrained charter school growth.
UTLA-Retired is now mobilizing all its 4,300 members for the special election in March to fill a key seat on the LAUSD school board and tilt the balance away from a pro-charter majority.
Eight days after the six-day strike had ramped up public
pressure, the Los Angeles Unified school board passed a
groundbreaking resolution calling for a moratorium on new
charters in the district until Sacramento completes a study of
how their unchecked expansion has affected traditional schools.
The district also made a significant investment in local
With a massive outpouring of community support, a new
generation of teachers shut down the country’s second-largest
school district in a fight for the future of public education.
UTLA members launched their first strike in 30 years to deliver
“the schools our kids deserve.”
Yesterday the members of United Teachers of Los Angeles ratified
their new contract, ending the six-day strike that has captivated
the state and the nation, and paving the way for teachers to
their classrooms this morning.
UPDATE: After the factfinding report was
released on December 18, UTLA announced it will go on strike
A Red-for-Ed wave rolled through downtown Los Angeles on December
15 as tens of thousands of members and supporters of United
Teachers Los Angeles protested large class sizes, low pay,
over-testing, a shortage of school nurses and other support
staff, and the unregulated growth of charter schools.
The faculty union at City College of San Francisco pulled off a
one-day strike on April 27, despite the administration’s claim
that the strike was illegal. To avert another strike, the college
agreed to a union contract with substantial raises by July.
Rain, wind, and a four-hour round trip from her home could not
keep English teacher Jessica Nelson away from City College of San
Francisco to join a one-day strike on April 27, the first strike
in the school’s history.
“I wanted to support my fellow faculty,” she said. “There’s a
lack of respect for faculty here. That’s what led to this strike
and all the time, energy and effort the union has put into it.”