LA teachers’ union leader says 2019 strike sparked local and statewide change

One year after 30,000 Los Angeles teachers went on strike, the head of United Teachers Los Angeles looks back at those days as setting the stage for change. In an interview this week with EdSource, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl credits the strike for paving the way for more charter school regulation in California and for the election of Jackie Goldberg to the L.A. Unified school board. Caputo-Pearl also discussed the district’s finances and relations between the union and the district.

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the conversation.

EdSource: In your view, did the Los Angeles strike spark statewide teacher activism? If so, how?

Caputo-Pearl: We’ve been meeting with Oakland and other urban unions in California for a number of years. So there was some coordination to (the Oakland teacher) strikes. The main reflections of activism immediately after the L.A. and Oakland strikes was activism around the charter bills (AB 1505, which gave districts more authority to reject charter schools, and AB 1507, which closed a loophole allowing charter schools to operate in districts where they aren’t authorized). There was a major mobilization in Sacramento in May around the charter bills. And then a lot of that activism has funneled into Schools and Communities First, where we’ve got unions in a much better position now, having looked at the L.A. and Oakland strikes and learned from them to build structures within their own unions, to get the signatures for and ultimately get the votes for Schools and Communities First. (EdSource note: Schools and Communities First, also known as the “split-roll” initiative, will likely appear on the November ballot and would amend Proposition 13’s restrictions to raise taxes on commercial and business properties but not homeowners.) Click here to read more: