Tuesday, January 13, 2015


ED NOTES : from an outraged insider at UTLA 
If you are interested in this issue, then please attend the next House
of Representative meetings where it will be proposed to spend $3
million of the $11 million strike fund for escalating actions.  I
believe ALL members ought to be surveyed to see if they would agree to
such a move decreasing our strike fund over 25%.  It takes $3 million
dollars to communicate with members?  It takes $3 million dollars to
unite as members? I do not feel that this would be the responsible
route to take.

Defend Housed Teachers or approve a Slush Fund for UTLA Leaders?

Dear President Caputo-Pearl, UTLA Officers, Colleagues,

For those on the House of Representatives, we urge you to vote NO on UTLA's attempted raid of the Strike Fund. If anything, that $3 million should be used to buy legal insurance for teachers wrongly accused of misconduct. Here is our rationale:

UTLA claims they are broke, that they've literally blown through the roughly $20 million in UTLA's General Fund Budget, which is why they need the $3 million to mobilize for a strike. Yet UTLA won't even declare Impasse. 

Board of Director Bertz claims that, "if we cannot show that we did negotiate in good faith, a Declaration of Impasse will be overruled by PERB and we lose credibility with the public for future organizing."

What has UTLA been doing if not negotiating in good faith? What future organizing? 

Wouldn't this $3 million be better spent on getting group legal insurance for housed teachers? Right now, if a teacher asks too many questions, the principal just waits for a few students to make up a few weak allegations, and the principal sends the teacher to teacher jail. Problem solved -- for the principal. This bullying environment exists because there is no safety net for wrongly accused teachers. 

If you're wrongly accused? You can take your case to UTLA, which pays to defend very, very few of its teachers (UTLA claims to have gone to bat for only 77 members.) UTLA just counsels teachers to take a lousy settlement offer from LAUSD -- whether they are presumed guilty or not. Or UTLA directs teachers to Trigstad Schwab, where teachers have to shell out thousands and often tens of thousands of dollars to mount a defense, and only get that money back if they win at the very, very end of an extremely long, protracted legal battle -- LAUSD drags out this process as long as possible, hoping to starve teachers into taking a lousy settlement deal. 

So, if anything, why not use this $3 million to buy group legal insurance for teachers accused of misconduct? Not only would it save teachers who are currently being targeted by LAUSD, it would save future teachers, it would provide insurance for all of us, and it would make principals think twice before sending a teacher to teacher jail over unsubstantiated, often weak student allegations. 

According to UTLA leaders, teacher jail is no longer a problem. They'll say Trigstad Schwab has an excellent record. Yet sources indicate that records show that in 2014 where 16 out of 26 cases were won, not all were represented by Trygstad-Schwab. Equally important, UTLA leaders won't talk about all the teachers who were forced into taking lousy settlement deals because -- after years of furloughs and almost eight years without a raise, not even a COLA -- they didn't have the money to mount a legal defense. Instead, UTLA leaders will privately tell you many of those teachers just didn't have strong cases, or, about the lack of insurance, they'll say something like, "we're working on this problem with our affiliates," which, roughly translated, in UTLAspeak, means that nothing is going to change. 

You won't hear Mike Fuoroli or Arlene Scherry of the Unjustly Jailed Teachers Committee talk about any of this. They're too busy trying to have committee members Michael Dominguez and Matthew Sorensen banned from the building (much in the same way Mr. Bertz is working with union leadership to try to have Substitute Teacher co-chair Dave Peters banned from the building). UTLA's motto should be...UTLA: We Eat Our Own.

On a related note, why doesn't UTLA adopt an austerity budget before raiding the Strike Fund?  Mr. Cortines canceled all district travel by LAUSD leaders because he couldn't allow that to happen while "Rome burns." Not only has UTLA failed to respond, UTLA doesn't even tell members how much of our dues are spent on meals and domestic and international travel. We know Ms. Forrester has been to Amsterdam, Ms. Inouye has been to Hawaii, and Ms. Myart Cruz has recently been to Japan, to name a few. And these are just the trips we know about. 

We also know they've slashed the budget for the Substitute Teacher committee in half and are refusing to send out a newsletter to help organize Substitute Teachers. Why is UTLA opposed to organizing?

Also, as Mr. Potts pointed out in his research about the leadership conference, UTLA is clearly not doing everything it can to save every last penny, as union hotels are available in Los Angeles. Rather than hold the leadership conference at the most affordable union hotel available in Los Angeles, UTLA is choosing to hold its 2015 leadership conference at the Taj Mahal of resorts, the home of the 1%, the home of the PGA -- the non-union La Quinta Resort and Spa in Palm Springs -- costing at least several hundred thousand dollars extra. UTLA leaders literally will be staying in properties that are larger than most of our apartments and houses. 

According to UTLA Treasurer Inouye, from the document distributed to House members, as part of this $3 million raid on the Strike fund, UTLA wants to spend $350,000 on "Revamping our data system," $200,000 on "legal costs," $100,000 on "Special Meetings," and $236,000 on "Release time for 20 organiziers." 

So ask yourself...which is more important? Defending teachers wrongly accused of misconduct, as well as providing insurance for all teachers, or spending $3 million on pet projects and vaguely defined expenditures proposed by UTLA leaders (for a strike that, at this rate, will never happen, as UTLA continues to refuse to declare Impasse)? 

Vote NO on this raid on the Strike Fund! If we're going to blow a few million dollars, let's spend it on insurance for ALL members!

In Unity,
The Movement for the Union that UTLA Members Deserve

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Be civil . Not obedient.