Vote “No” on UTLA-LAUSD deal! Extend the strike to Oakland and across California to defend public education!

By the WSWS Teacher Newsletter
22 January 2019

The WSWS Teachers Newsletter is holding an emergency call-in meeting on Wednesday, January 23, at 7:00 pm Pacific. For more information, visit wsws.org/teachers.

The World Socialist Web Site Teachers Newsletter calls on teachers in Los Angeles to reject the agreement announced by the United Teachers of Los Angeles, Superintendent Austin Beutner and Mayor Garcetti on Tuesday.

The deal is a conspiracy by the union, the school district, and the corporate politicians. The UTLA is trying to ram through the agreement at shotgun votes in schools and meetings Tuesday night. They know that the more time teachers have to study the deal, the more opposition there will be.

This conspiracy must be rejected! We call on teachers to immediately form rank-and-file committees to continue the strike and expand it to teachers and other sections of the working class in California and beyond. We urge teachers in meetings tonight to pass resolutions declaring that there will be no return to work before teachers have at least four days to study and discuss a full contract.

Los Angeles teachers have not walked the picket lines for over a week in order to accept this rotten sellout.

The first item in the self-serving “summary” reveals the character of the agreement. It states that the “Board of Education will vote on a resolution calling on the state to establish a charter school cap and the creation of a Governor’s committee on charter schools at the next Board of Education meeting.”

What worthless rubbish! In other words, absolutely nothing will be done to halt the privatization of public education. The UTLA dropped the demand for a cap on charter expansion even before the strike began, and promises that Governor Newsom will restrict their expansion are as worthless as previous claims by the UTLA that Jerry Brown would.

As for school funding, the summary states that the UTLA, LAUSD and the Mayor’s office will “jointly advocate for increased county and state funding.” More empty promises and evasions, adding up to a big, fat zero.

At the press conference earlier today, Beutner praised the UTLA for making a deal that would “maintain fiscal solvency” and said the issues of teacher pay and per pupil funding could not be “solved in one week, in one contract.” The former investment banker said he looked forward to “more collaboration” with the union.

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl admitted class sizes would remain at their currently high levels, adding only that “we’ve started down a real path to addressing class sizes.” More empty promises, signifying nothing.

The 3 percent wage increase for educators will do nothing to relieve teachers who have suffered a decade-long pay freeze and face some of the highest housing costs in the US.

The UTLA is telling teachers to place their faith in Newsom and other Democrats to increase school funding, but the Democrats are responsible for reducing per pupil funding to near the bottom in the US.

The unions and the Democrats are trying to shut down the strike just as momentum is building for a broader struggle.

Mayor Garcetti warned of an impending strike in Oakland, where the district is threatening to shut down a third of the schools. Teachers and school nurses are voting to strike in Denver, Colorado, with the district superintendent threatening to hire furloughed federal workers as strikebreakers. In Virginia, tens of thousands of teachers are planning mass demonstrations to demand more school funding.

More than 70,000 maquiladora workers in Matamoros, Mexico have launched a wildcat strike to oppose sweatshop conditions and corporate-controlled unions. In France, teachers in the “Red Pens” movement have joined the Yellow Vest protests, and in Greece, the Netherlands and other countries teachers are striking or preparing to strike to fight social inequality and austerity measures.

Los Angeles teachers have taken a courageous stand to defend the right to quality education for all youth. If the district and big business politicians can ram through this sellout contract, it will be used as a precedent to escalate the drive to privatize public education throughout the US and internationally. This is precisely what was done in 2012, when the Chicago Teachers Union rammed through a sellout agreement under similar conditions.

To take forward this fight, teachers need to build rank-and-file strike committees, independent of the unions, to spread the strike throughout California and beyond.

Rank-and-file committees will provide a forum for teachers to advance their own demands, including the reconversion of all charter schools into public schools; a 30 percent wage increase; the hiring of tens of thousands of teachers to reduce class size limits to 25; and other urgent needs.

There is enormous support for teachers, but this support must be mobilized and united! On this basis, a powerful counteroffensive can be waged against inequality and the attack on public education.

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