(Mensaje se repite en Español)
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for the last ten years has carried on a disingenuous and premeditated war against thousands of expensive high seniority teachers, while their union United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) has done absolutely nothing to defend them as they are obligated and have the power to do under the LAUSD-UTLA Collective Bargaining Agreement. Now this self-dealing UTLA "Power Slate" leadership that runs UTLA has the chutzpah to ask for more dues, while continuing to sell out its membership by colluding with LAUSD administration in making the attack on senior teachers even possible in the first place.
In 2006, when then LAUSD head of Office of Risk Management & Insurance Services Director David Holmquist- now Chief Legal Counsel for LAUSD- laid out in the Health & Welfare Benefits: Retiree Health Actuarial Valuation Update & Retreat Preview Presentation to the Audit, Business & Technology Committee how senior teachers salary and benefits were pushing LAUSD into the red, he then subsequently decided to go after them. Over the next 10 years Holmquist systematically targeted senior teachers who just happen to make up 87% of all teachers who have been hit with false charges and prematurely forced out of their careers, while UTLA leadership hasn't lifted a finger to help them.
Instead of bringing one unified legal action in defense of these targeted senior teachers as UTLA clearly has power to do under the LAUSD-UTLA Collective Bargaining Agreement (see below), UTLA divided instead of aggregating the claims of these similarly targeted senior teachers by paying the union's retained law firm Trygstad, Schwab & Trygstad to walk these teachers through the dismissal process or to encourage them to take early retirement without ever advocating on their behalf as they had the power and legal obligation to do:
1.0 Grievance and Parties Defined: A grievance is defined as a
claim that the District has violated an express term of this Agreement and that by
reason of such violation the grievant's rights under this Agreement have been
adversely affected. Grievances as defined may be filed by the affected
employee or by UTLA on its own behalf or on behalf of an individual employee or
group of employees where the claims are similar. On filing a grievance on behalf
of a group, UTLA need not specify the names of the employees, but must
describe the group so that the District has notice of the nature and scope of the
Rather than fulfill a union's primary function, which is to defend its rank and file when unjustly targeted by employer LAUSD, UTLA leadership converted a substantial part of the strike fund to political contributions without notifying the membership or any of the committees. And then they pleaded poverty.
Going back to the administration of UTLA President Warren Fletcher and before, UTLA leadership habitually lied that they had member defense insurance from a company that was no longer in business. They even had a campaign to get rate payers to join the union by assuring them that they would then be covered by an insurance policy...that never existed.
Initially UTLA was self-insured when the number of LAUSD targeted teachers was small, but over the last 10 years with literally thousands of teachers being targeted for removal by LAUSD, UTLA has continued to do absolutely nothing to defend these predominantly senior teachers at the top of the salary scale. These teachers were allowed to be systematically targeted and removed on false charges by LAUSD, which continues unabated to this day.
If a rate hike of dues was necessary to defense teachers, why did UTLA leadership wait 10 years until thousands of senior expensive teachers had been targeted and removed by LAUSD without any push back for UTLA? All this did was empower LAUSD administration in going after even more senior teachers and it also significantly cut in to the dues collectible by UTLA from teachers whom UTLA leadership allowed to be unjustly removed without any due process of law or enforcement of their clear rights under the LAUSD-UTLA Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Why was this allowed to happen? Simply stated, there has been no continuity of leadership advocating on behalf of teachers best interests, because UTLA's law firm Trygstad, Schwab & Trygstad has been allowed to run UTLA for 43 years without any written agreement between them and the union. Officers come and go, but like a mirror image at LAUSD leadership, UTLA's own entrenched bureaucracy sells out rank and file for their own collusive gains at the expense of its members,
If the present proposal of 30% dues increase becomes policy, future increases could be instituted without rank and file voting. Without this agreement, were national affiliates to raise dues in the future, UTLA could still at that time conduct a vote of the entire membership so they could determine whether they wanted to have their dues raised or not. This provides leverage to ensure that their affiliates would have to provide sound rationale for any dues increase. It would also provide leverage to UTLA leadership, who could pressure affiliates into advocating a clear message to justify the need for a dues increase. However, if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Friedrichs in May, as expected, defendant CTA will undoubtedly seek to raise dues on UTLA members later this year. One should never give up a right to vote - as UTLA is now asking its membership to do.
This current vote on raising UTLA dues includes an online option, but to date UTLA has not allow for voting for these delegates via online voting options, in violation of the online voting initiative, since this would encourage greater rank and file participation and the likelihood that the raising of the dues proposal would not pass:
Further, the decision to use an outside vendor to conduct the vote was done secretly by the Board of Directors, and the House of Representatives was never informed or allowed to weigh in on that decision. Traditionally, any election run by an outside vendor has also been overseen by the UTLA Elections Committee - yet the Board of Directors unilaterally decided to exclude the Elections Committee.
For months UTLA leaders have been claiming that UTLA can't buy group legal insurance for housed teachers, because UTLA can't offer differing services to each affiliate. This claim, on its face, is false, since each affiliate already offers differing discounts on auto, travel, and other insurance services -- these services are not and have never been identical. UTLA has not responded to this criticism, which was pointed out months ago.
As has been well publicized, UTLA aspiring leadership met secretly with then Superintendent John Deasy at Drago Restaurant in the middle of the last big UTLA election. UTLA Power Slate leaders have claimed this meeting was to discuss problem principals, an explanation that, on its face, doesn't make sense. Why meet at Drago and not LAUSD or UTLA? Why was former President Fletcher intentionally not told about the meeting? It seems more likely the meeting was to agree to delay talk of a pay raise in exchange for allowing candidates time off to campaign during school hours. As a result, a pay raise was delayed for an extra year -- money directly taken
out of teachers pockets as UTLA leadership colluded with management.
It is also worth mentioning that for years UTLA leaders were reimbursed by UTLA for money they paid in to the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) -in effect allowing them to double dip - and they did not report this on their taxes. UTLA leaders claim this policy is no longer in effect, but there is nothing in writing to support that assertion.
Adding more self-dealing to the fire, UTLA continues to claim that it fights the "charter privatizers." But right now former UTLA President John Perez, and UTLA Staff Member Michael Bennett serve as the Board President and Vice President respectively of Montague Community Charter School. To date, UTLA has not disclosed their compensation levels and whether or not they are receiving any additional compensation from other outside entities such as the California Charter Schools Association. On a related note, both were former UTLA Officers and benefited from the STRS kickback. As Mr. Perez was a UTLA leader for over 10 years, he received over 10 years of this kickback.
In general, UTLA has continued to operate with an air of secrecy and doesn't even disclose to members what they spend money on. In fact, in 2015, at a UTLA House of Representatives meeting, a member asked, at the microphone for more detailed budget and expense information- more than the four page document provided to elected members of the House of Representatives. At the time, UTLA Treasurer Arlene Inouye, a member of the Union Power Slate stated in response, at the microphone, "If we provide that to you, we might as well be giving that to the district." What
is UTLA so afraid of? If they want a 30% dues increase, at a minimum, shouldn't they tell us right now how they have been spending- and not spending- dues money up until now? If they are responsible, why not celebrate that by operating transparently, and asking LAUSD to follow UTLA's example. Instead, UTLA is silent about district waste and contracts, and is even under federal investigation into how they may have misappropriated money from the strike fund:
National affiliates have done a terrible job over the past twenty years advocating for public education, which is why we find working conditions to be what they are today. Their big solution is to organize a "walk in" in February, another do nothing photo op. In Detroit, on the other hand, rank and file teachers are organizing sick outs *without the support of their union leadership. We need to start fighting affiliates cozying up to privatizers, union-paid holidays disguised as host conferences, bloated bureaucracies, spending millions on meals and travel, and now they want to give themselves even more money?
Under these circumstances, do you really want to give a blank check to UTLA and their national affiliates, who have only stood by for years and allowed professional teachers to be savaged by LAUSD and districts like it around the country? I urge you to vote no.
If you or someone you know has been targeted and are in the process of being dismissed and need legal defense, get in touch:
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