The new leader of the Los Angeles teachers union signaled a more militant stance toward the school district at a national teachers union convention this weekend, including the possibility of a strike, it was reported today.
Alex Caputo-Pearl, who took office July 1, characterized a work stoppage as a potentially effective part of broader social action to benefit students as well as their instructors, the Los Angeles Times reported. Hs remarks drew cheers at the weekend convention of the American Federation of Teachers in downtown L.A.
In an interview, L.A. schools Superintendent John Deasy also sought to reach teachers, urging them to agree to terms similar to those achieved by other employee unions in the nation's second-largest school system, according to The Times. UTLA is seeking a 17.6 percent raise over several years.
Caputo-Pearl, 45, spoke at a Saturday-night panel with other teachers union leaders, including Michael Mulgrew from New York City and Karen Lewis from Chicago. Lewis, who sat to the right of Caputo-Pearl, led Chicago teachers on a 2012 strike, an experience for which she was celebrated at the convention, The Times reported.
The new L.A. union leader framed his remarks around defining "social movement unionism," which he said is "explicit about fighting for racial and social justice. It's explicit in fighting against privatization. It's explicit in taking people on who need to be taken on, including a lot of Democrats."
He added, according to The Times: "It's a unionism that is willing to strike. It's a unionism that is willing to build to a strike and strike if that's what we need to do." Caputo-Pearl added that he'd already advised members by letter to begin putting aside savings for a possible strike.
He also announced a major internal reorganization within United Teachers Los Angeles and signaled his intention to seek higher member dues to make the union a more effective political force, The Times reported.
--City News Service