4 years without a contract and no work stoppage…. Yet

Last week the long shore men and dock workers reached a tentative agreement that will put an end to the work stoppage at the Long beach ports. The long shore men had been working without a contract for 9 months. What is the problem with that? Uncertainty. For hours. For job site rights. If it’s not in contractual language, it’s left up to the overseers. It’s an equation that ends in the disenfranchisement of large groups of people, workers. Bosses have the upper hand.

What’s wrong with that you say? Well, nothing if your boss is one who’s principles would never allow them to prioritize profit over people. If you have bosses who value true collaboration and want to empower their employees to be creative, innovative, and happier.

But what if this is not your reality? What if your bosses balance their budgets in non transparent ways that leave their clients (the folks you actually provide services for) more burdened and disenfranchised? What if your bosses ignore the actual communities they are charged with serving, opting instead to privilege the perspectives of outside “experts” in the name of reform? What if your bosses managed in ways that continually left your organization cash strapped, insolvent, and unstable (even in times of economic rebound driven by voter supported increases in taxes to fund your industry) … In a top down style of management that killed any research based or proven best practices, or insights from the skilled laborers closest to the work?

Unfortunately these are not what if scenarios for Los Angeles teachers. We have been working without a contract since 2011. In that time, schools have seen counselors and nurses virtually disappear (the ratio at our campus for counselors is 520 to 1 and for nurses its 1500 to 1). Buildings and grounds crews are skeleton status. Librarians are rarely full time if even staffed. Class sizes at many sites have remained large, while teacher wages have remained low (when I tell my friends who much I truly make I have to be ready to remember my EMT training in order to revive them from the shock… Or utilize multiple tactics to avoid a pity party).

When the dock workers go without a contract for months, they strike. And they are supported. Perhaps it’s the billion dollars a day the port and its workers help feed into the economy…. But I wonder if you measured the long range earning and spending potential of the 920,000 LAUSD students… Would that be enough to garner the outrage and support of the public?

These are the reasons that teachers around LA are up in arms. These are the reasons that our union is standing firm in our demands for policies that bring the schools San education that students deserve.

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Photo cred: Jay Davis / Hawkins HS Art Teacher & CHAS Vice Chair