The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) voted by more than 4 to 1 to increase their dues by about one-third, $1,000 a year.
“As billionaires are trying to cripple unions, our vote sends a national signal that educators are willing to invest more in our unions and in the fight for educational justice,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl told the Los Angeles Times. UTLA maintained it needed the funds to counter anti-union lawsuits and a plan to transfer half the city’s public-school students into charter schools over the next eight years. In addition, the union will be able to retain the organizing director, researcher, community outreach specialist, and field organizers.
With these resources, the union was able to win a favorable contract settlement, including a 10% raise, says Caputo-Pearl. UTLA is about to enter negotiations with the LA Unified School District over class sizes and school staffing levels for nurses and counselors. Most of the union’s 32,000 members are teachers, but UTLA also represents school nurses, counselors, and psychologists. The turnout, just over 50%, was high for a UTLA vote and may reflect the increasing number of ballots cast online. For the first time, the vote gives the union authority to pass on costs to members when affiliated unions, like the National Education Association, raise fees and charge UTLA.