In an empowering show of solidarity, teachers and hotel workers combined forces for a dual demonstration in Los Angeles on Friday.
Hotel Workers with Unite Here Local 11 joined striking members of United Teachers Los Angeles to picket in front of RFK Community High School. The teachers and hotel workers then marched in unity down Wilshire Boulevard to continue the action at the nearby LINE Hotel, where Unite Here is currently in contract negotiations.
More than 31,000 UTLA members at 900 schools are striking over issues of class size, staffing levels, pay raises and the threat of privatization. It’s the first work stoppage at the nation’s second largest school district since 1989.
Balthasar Adell, a UTLA Chapter Chair at Berendo Middle School, emphasized the need for more counselors and nurses and lower class sizes.
“We are in search of a fair contract,” Adell said. “What that means, first of all, is material and support personnel for students. That’s first and foremost.”
For Rocksand Ramirez, a Unite Here Local 11 organizer, the teacher’s strike is personal. Her three children are enrolled in LAUSD.
“Their fight is our fight,” she said.
Unite Here is currently in negotiations on a new contract with a number of area hotels.
“We’re demanding a better living, to have a better pension, to get a raise, and a panic button for me to be protected inside the workplace,” Ramirez said.
The joint demonstration drew faith and community groups as well as members of other unions in solidarity.
“The UTLA struggle is our struggle,” said Joanne Waddell, President of the Community College Faculty Guild AFT 1521. “Their demands are our demands. It’s about smaller class size, it’s about safer campuses, it’s all the things you need for real student success. And it’s about privatization of public education. It’s got to stop, and it’s got to stop now.”
As the UTLA strike entered its second week, Adell stressed that morale was high and that the teachers’ determination had not waivered.
“Every single person that you see out here knows that if we need to be here Tuesday, we’ll be here. Guaranteed.”