A Los Angeles County judge ruled that Los Angeles teachers can go on strike on Monday. Negotiations are continuing, so we’ll see what happens. Meanwhile historian Nelson Lichtenstein offers some important background on the teachers’ struggle in that city:
Indeed, when the union held a strike ballot in August 2018, 98 percent of the membership voted yes, and over a thousand teachers who were not yet members joined UTLA in order to cast their ballots too. Post-Janusunion density stands at an extraordinary 96 percent, the highest ever.
This kind of commitment could not exist without great community support, which the union had carefully nurtured through its “Bargaining for the Common Good” program that links union demands for better schools to the particular problems faced by L.A.’s often insecure immigrant community. In mid-December 50,000 Los Angelinos joined a demonstration in support of UTLA demands for smaller classes, higher wages, and a cap on charter schools.
If the LA teachers do strike, following last year’s wave of teacher strikes in mostly red states, as well as a historic charter school strike in Chicago, it will be a major moment for worker power and the strength of public education. We’ll see …