Thursday, March 17, 2005

Los Angeles Teachers Follow Berkeley's Example

On the first of this month, Joanne Jacobs reported the story about how the teachers union in Berkeley had instructed their members not to perform any non-required services such as meeting with parents or assigning homework. As a result of stalled contract negotiations, the Berkeley Federation of Teachers ordered this action in order to bring pressure to bear on the district's administration.

They must have been watching down is Los Angeles, because teachers in the
Los Angeles Unified School District are doing the same thing:

Members of United Teachers Los Angeles have every right to be annoyed -- for the last 18 months, they've been working without a contract.

Union members in the west San Fernando Valley and elsewhere in the city have launched a "work-to-rule" protest, which means they only do what their old contract requires of them, and nothing more. That means no extra tutoring, no coming to class early or staying late to prepare, no extracurricular activities like chess club -- nothing they are not paid specifically to do, like coaching sports teams.

Just a few days ago, we here at the 'Wonks covered the election of a new, more militant group of union leaders that promised to take a harder line regarding contract negotiations with the school district.

Obviously, a more confrontational strategy has already been implemented despite the fact that this newly-elected leadership has yet to take office.

Even though this "work-to-the-rule" maneuver will certainly get the district's attention, the teachers union runs a very real risk of further alienating the community. And it's the community that the governing board of trustees is elected to represent.

One of the key components to any successful negotiating strategy is to win the community's support. In the end, the actions of the Los Angeles teachers union will likely be counter-productive to what should be their goal: a fair settlement.

For the latest edition of The Carnival Of Education, click here.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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