By now, you’ve heard the great news that our brothers and sisters in Los Angeles ended their 6-day strike after UTLA successfully ratified a new contract with the District. The new agreement contains pay raises, reductions in class size (currently at 45 students!), and provisions to ensure more counselors, nurses, and librarians.
By all accounts, the strike was a success for the educators and schoolchildren of Los Angeles. But the strike was successful because of the crucial member, community and political organizing that was done before the strike. When the teachers went on strike, they had overwhelming support from the public for their cause. That’s because UTLA did the hard work of talking with parents, community groups, politicians and the press about the unacceptable learning conditions that schoolchildren face in L.A. before a strike vote was taken.
And that’s the takeaway from the UTLA strike–if we want to win the battles we’re fighting on behalf of our schoolchildren, we need to do more than get angry. We must continually raise our issues with parents and elected leaders so that they know what’s happening in our schools. This sort of public and political organizing is what ultimately secured a new contract for UTLA. It’s how they got counselors, librarians, and nurses restored to every school, and it’s how they won class size limits.
Our communities and legislators need to know what we’re fighting for. That’s why it’s so important that PFT members show up when we have meetings and rallies, and to take part in activities like completing our legislative agenda survey. The more people understand what we’re doing for our city’s children, the more support they will give us.
And that support will be crucial if we want to celebrate victories like the one our brothers and sisters of UTLA are enjoying this week.
Jerry T. Jordan, President