May 17, 2009

Here's To UTLA Teachers & Their Union Prez, A.J. Duffy !

Profiles In Courage
Angry over budget cuts, L.A. teachers planned a 1 day strike to protest teacher lay offs outside their school district's headquarters . Even though a judge issued a restraining order against the 1 day strike, teachers protested cutbacks through an organized sit-in, city-wide sick-out and hundreds of high school students walked out of classes in acts of civil disobedience. Their slogan read " One Day's Pay 4 The Kids of L.A." (pictured right ). Updated reports indicate that fourty-five in total were arrested outside school district offices including L.A. Teachers' Union President, A.J. Duffy (pictured above) on Friday, May 15, 2009.

Here's to you United Teachers' of Los Angeles (UTLA) President Duffy and all of the L.A. teachers and students for taking a stand in the best interests of teaching and learning ! An L.A. public school student said it best when discussing the cutbacks : "We care about the teachers," Jasmine Guerrero, a senior, said in a phone interview. "But it's more about us. One teacher for 45 students, it's not a productive learning environment." Here's the story as reported courtesy of the LA Times, written by Jason Song and Howard Blume:

Anger over budget cuts boils over at L.A. schools
"United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy was arrested at a protest outside the school district headquarters. Hundreds of teachers call in sick and hundreds of high school students walk out of classrooms. The teachers union president is among 39 arrested at a sit-in outside L.A. Unified headquarters.

The head of the Los Angeles teachers union was among 39 people arrested Friday during a sit-in outside the school district headquarters, one among dozens of peaceful protests around the city by teachers and students outraged by plans for deep cuts in education spending."Don't raise class size!" the protesters chanted before Los Angeles Police Department officers moved in to break up the demonstration.

Is all this really for the children?
United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy was among those who had raised his fist in response to police requests to disperse, and who was bound with plastic handcuffs and taken away in an LAPD bus for booking on a charge of blocking a public street. All of those arrested were later released.The protesters' ire was stoked by plans for layoffs of as many as 2,500 Los Angeles Unified School District teachers, the consequence of billions of dollars in statewide cuts to education.

Schools throughout L.A. were disrupted as hundreds of teachers called in sick and hundreds of high school students walked out of classrooms to protest the cutbacks at the district, the nation's second-largest after New York City. Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said after the protests that Duffy and a top aide had met with him the day before to suggest a compromise: The district would spend more of its federal stimulus money than planned in the coming year, forestalling the need for any teacher layoffs, and the union would agree to concessions, such as a wage freeze or unpaid furloughs.Cortines said he was open to such a deal, and that he might be able to offer jobs as long-term substitutes to laid-off teachers.Duffy had no comment on those negotiations.Danis Cybulski, a fourth-grade teacher at Aldama Elementary School in Highland Park, said she could accept a pay freeze or furlough days."I would stand behind the union as long as class sizes aren't increased and wasteful spending stopped," she said.Earlier in the week, a judge issued a restraining order prohibiting the teachers union from holding a one-day strike to protest the budget cuts.Cortines said the headquarters demonstration had not violated the order because the teachers involved were either on a break between semesters at year-round schools or had arranged for substitute teachers.

The superintendent, however, said he was not happy with the civil disobedience."I don't think that's the kind of image I want for our system," he said.The school district reported that it had 3,152 requests for substitute teachers, or roughly 700 more than usual for a Friday in May.Students walked out of class at several high schools and held sit-ins in support of teachers.About 500 students at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles held a sit-in Friday morning in the school's central yard. Later, they moved to the athletic field bleachers, and the school provided a sound system so they could discuss why they didn't want teachers laid off. Garfield could lose 13 English and social studies teachers. At Jordan High School in South Los Angeles, about 200 students gathered in the quad to show solidarity with teachers, and the campus was put on lock down in what Principal Stephen Strachan called a routine security measure.When students refused to go back into class, Strachan said, he gave them a microphone and about 15 students spoke out about the proposed layoffs."I'm very proud of our kids and their willingness to cooperate," he said. Hundreds of students also walked out at Maywood Academy. And scores of students chose not to return to their classrooms after a morning break at Franklin High School in Highland Park. " (Pictures/article courtesy of Posted by The Washington Teacher.


Anonymous said...

It's good to see a real union leadership at work. The Contrast to the sell-outs and rights -give away cowards that we have here at WTU. Can anyone imagine George Parker standing up for anything outside of himself and his prissy image.

Anonymous said...

solidarity at its best!

Anonymous said...

Our brothers and sisters in LA are showing us the way--testing boycotts, work stoppages, civil disobedience. Sweep out the labor bureaucrats and concession makers. They are "leading" us to ruin.

Notice how Weingarten won't go near the militant stuggle in LA but readily sticks her nose into the WTU's timid sissy fight against Rhee and her wealthy backers.

Are there anymore union members to sell out left? said...

Thanks, to the last anonymous. Please understand WTU is not a real union. It doesn't have membership meetings, qourum's at representative meetings or a representative assembly that been approved by the membership. Board meeting's are routinely canceled by it timid weak labor bureaucrat George Parker who has never found anything in his lifetime to fight for. Trying to undermine strong leadership in backroom deals is his favorite. A real union or leadership would have never allowed itself to get caught up in the awesome winds of the publicity seeking Hurricane Rhee.

Sissy Fight said...

Maybe we can have a mano-mano fight between Weingarten and Rhee. The winner wins the first annual "George Parker Sissy union leader award"

Jeff said...

To reclaim our union we need get rid of most of the current leadership. Then we can have more than labor bureaucrats. Saying one thing and doing another.

Anonymous said...

Great post....we need more militancy in the labor movement, especially in the public sector......WTU members need to rise is really not at all about Randi, she seems to be trying to save the WTU, despite Parker doing everything he can to undermine everyone

Anonymous said...,0,2354830.story

From the Los Angeles Times

Teachers start hunger strike to protest layoffs

At least nine teachers and two activists take part in the strike, demanding that the district put forth a new budget that doesn't include layoffs or class-size increases.

By Ruben Vives
May 28, 2009

A group of teachers and community activists started a hunger strike Wednesday in protest of the Los Angeles Unified School District's plan to lay off thousands of teachers.

At least nine teachers and two activists are participating in the action, said Sean Leys, a Lincoln High School teacher.

Leys says the group is demanding a new budget that will not include layoffs or class-size increases.

It also wants the district to use federal stimulus money to avoid budget cuts.

Not a Duffy Fan said...

We're not all fans in LA. Duffy has sold out experienced substitute teachers. This summer he signed an agreement with the district giving away the seniority rights of substitutes, and did so without consulting Substitute Leaders in the union, as required by UTLA's own contract. And now, despite motions at various area meetings to have the his agreement rescinded, he's refusing. So much for soladarity.