Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Why the dues increase on UTLA teachers is a bad idea?

For over seven years, opposed to other unionized teachers in the US, UTLA teachers did not receive a salary increase. This phenomenon was attributed in part to the state and federal economic crisis that hit schools and universities in the last several years. LAUSD particularly cut a lot of its teaching force and support personnel claiming that its budget was severely affected by the state cuts and the economic decline that impacted the whole nation. In addition, LAUSD implemented a series of furlough days that came to represent a pay cut of about 8% which was publicly admitted by Alex Caputo-Pearl on the 2014-2015 Calendar Memo Booklet. At the same time, teachers experienced a significant increase in class size due to the fact that many fellow teachers were RIFted or dismissed due to the continued LAUSD board of education's approval of more charter schools with little or no opposition coming from UTLA. Between 2010 and 2014, UTLA lost
approximately 13000 teachers. The union response to these actions is that all those teachers were dismissed by LAUSD and not UTLA. However, the former and the present UTLA leaders fail to admit that UTLA did not organize serious jobs actions to stop the continued attacks against teachers. Instead these leaders have been attending conference after conference spending dues money that could have been used to defend our teachers. In any case, during the last Leadership Conference organized at La Quinta, UTLA leaders promoted an unpopular dues increase claiming that UTLA was running in the red. UTLA President spent most of his speech time attempting to convince UTLA Chapter Chairs and others why a dues increase was necessary. However, Mr. Alex Caputto-Pearl failed to address the real reasons why UTLA is facing "serious economic problems" and deflected all the blame on LAUSD. On his speech, Alex ran around the bushes trying to put all the
blame on the former LAUSD Superintendent, John Deasy, for our union problems. Actually, he tried to make John Deasy's resignation something like a personal achievement. However, he has avoided repeated requests from members who are demanding an explanation of how our dues Dollars are being spent by our union. One of the most important issues that has come to light lately, has been the possible misuse of money by UTLA leaders. According to a document circulated at an area meeting, there is plenty of information indicating that a large portion of $3 million Dollars approved for strike preparation may be missing, unaccounted for or simply used on unapproved business by our union leaders. As a result, the Department of Labor, Office Of the Inspector General (DOL-OIG), office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigation unit may have already opened and investigation on this matter. In that case ,if an investigation is already under way, it
is important that UTLA members be well informed of where this investigation is going, and do not rush to approve any dues increase until this investigation has produced results and those responsible for any illegal activity be prosecuted or indicted for their crimes. $3 Million Dollars is way too much money to be ignored by our members in a time of crisis.

Why would the implementation of “dual Membership” be a bad idea?

As we already explained why a dues increase may not be a good thing to implement due to irregularities related to the misuse of members dues money by UTLA leaders, a dual membership may be just as bad. In the recent weeks, UTLA leaders have been promoting agressively a dual membership for UTLA members. According to them, the process of merging into one single membership for all union members is inevitable or so they claim. However, our members fail to recognize that implementing a dual membership, even when dues are not increased on any of us, may not represent what many of our members want. First, let’s look at the following information: UTLA is affiliated to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA). The American Federation of Teachers(AFT) only represents roughly 30% of our members. By making every member dual members of UTLA, our so called “leaders” would guarantee that AFT would receive
the same amount of dues money that the NEA receives even though the AFT membership is considerably less. Also, in latest years, the AFT has been on the forefront movement to privatize education. By the way, AFT President Randi Weingarten received over a million of Dollars from the Gates Foundation for its Innovation Fund, which was founded in 2009. The Innovation Fund isn’t the only AFT initiative funded by the Gates Foundation. Since 2010, the AFT has received more than $10 million on several other projects. The NEA on the other hand, have bought into the corporate reform "experiment" by attempting to pull its members into the direction of corporate reform. No issue illustrates this better than the diehard allegiance of both AFT and NEA to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) sponsored and financed by billionaire Bill Gates. As a matter of facts, The Broad Foundation Mission Statement states that one of its goals is the
transformation of labor relations. In that case, one can argue that the The Broad Foundation is not "anti-union". Rather, it seeks to transform unions into a form of company union. A company union is a union located within and run by a company or a national government, and the union bureaucracy is incorporated into the company’s management. So, the implementation of dual membership for UTLA members guarantees that the American Federation of Teachers and the National Association of Educators split our money equally so that the scam of feeding the national political machine continues to favor equally the upper structure of these two wrongly labeled labor institutions. Ask yourself this questions: What are the national unions doing for us? Taking the corporate reform money and carrying out the privatization bidding? The actions of both national union presidents read more like privatizing reformer actions than union president actions. Making us
members of both AFT/NEA only turn us into accomplices of what these unions do in our name. Instead, we should be proponents of reducing our contributions to both the AFT and the NEA rather than freely giving them our dues money so they can build equal political leverage at the state and federal level.

Why implement a dues increase when members have not received a salary increase this year and the years before?

In 2010, teachers took a 10% pay cut through the LAUSD implementation of furlough days. This pay cut was in addition to teachers not receiving a salary increase, not even a Cost of Living Adjustment(COLA), for over 7 years. If we look at how much money we lost during the seven years of not receiving a pay raise and the 10% pay cut in 2010, then we are talking about a 24% pay cut in total. In any case, as our members got this latest "pay increment" the union automatically got a dues increase as the so called pay increase came through. Now, our UTLA leaders are fast moving trying hard to implement an additional dues increase of about $19.00 a month. If approved, it will represent an additional 30% dues increase on our members. So, why should we pay more dues when we have not received a true salary increase this year? This dues increase only contributes to an already deteriorated economic situation of our teachers.

Why increasing dues may violate the right of members to hear those opposing this dues increase?

During the latest Area Meetings, several members asked if the dues increase had to be presented to members with pros and cons on the next issue of the United Teachers of LA newspapers. The answer from our so called "leaders" was no. According to them, they do not have to adhere to a democratic process to promote a dues increase. So far, no motion to increase dues has been introduced to the membership to allow statement in favor or against this proposal. However, our UTLA leaders have already been wasting precious resources by visiting schools supposedly "to get your input on our Strategic Plan to Build the Future and Fund the Fight". Well, not too fast on this!!! In reality, these visits respond to the UTLA efforts to convince members that a dues increase is necessary. However, this dues increase motion has not even been brought to the House Of Representatives for discussion or debate and it has not been presented officially with pros and cons to the
general membership. In that case, going around visiting schools to promote this dues increase is a blatant misuse of UTLA resources at a time when our union is facing a deep economic crisis.

UTLA shall give first priority to membership action and services at the local level.

As you may not know, UTLA is supposed to adhere to the general provisions stated on the original merger agreement which gives clear emphasis to our union responsibility to defend our members at the local level. There is no reason why UTLA should be giving over 30% of our dues contributions to the affiliates when our own members are in need of representation. Our constitution says: "UTLA shall give first priority to membership action and services at the local level". Our constitution does not say that we must adhere to the mandates of the NEA or the AFT every time they need more money. However, this provision has been neglected or just ignored by our leaders again and again when they have failed repeatedly to defend those members unfairly accused of crimes and who are now seating in teacher's jail on phony charges. As a matter of facts, a motion was introduced by a UTLA member to create a special fund to provide legal defense of teachers in
teacher's jail. However, the current leadership headed by Alex Caputo-Pearl and the so called "Union Power Caucus" all voted against it. In simple words, we are not obligated to continue sending a large portion of our dues Dollars to the national affiliates as the leaders have always made us to believe. Instead, we can use part of that money to defend our own teachers from false accusations. In my humble opinion, a dues increase is absolutely unnecessary. Stop the waste and defend our members!!! Please vote down this dues increase!!!

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