‘Strikes Work’: Lessons from UTLA

The biggest factor in executing a successful strike?

Preparation, preparation, preparation.

On Friday, February 22, the UCLA Downtown Labor Center hosted a conversation with UTLA leadership discussing lessons learned from the union’s recent strike that saw 30,000 teachers and thousands more supporters picket in front of school sites for six days in order to secure a fair contract.

Moderated by UCLA Labor Center Director Kent Wong, the discussion featured UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl and Secretary Arlene Inouye addressing topics such as mobilizing, messaging and coalition building.

Part of the preparation included establishing chapter leaders on each campus, engaging with parents and the community at large, and forming contract action teams. A dues increase in 2015 that was supported by 82% of the membership was necessary to give the union the resources needed for a significant action.

‘We prepared for the strike by preparing a strong union,” Inouye said. “We came together under a really clear vision, and the vision was for the schools that LA deserves.”

Having all UTLA members walking picket lines have the same message was also important.

“In this whole big game plan we set targets for getting our message out,” Caputo-Pearl said. “Our greatest asset is our members.”

Victories from UTLA’s first strike in 30 years include moratorium on charter schools, lower class sizes, hiring of more school nurses, the designation of 20 community schools, more green space and a raise.

Caputo-Pearl stressed that the word “strike” is not a bad word, but a legal part of the bargaining process.

‘Strikes work,” he said.

For the video of the discussion, click here:


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