Los Angeles Union Bosses Stage a Political Strike at Public Schoolteachers’ Expense

Forced-Unionism Abuses Exposed – The facts Big Labor bosses would rather you didn’t hear about.

“[C]ompulsory unionism and corruption go hand in hand . . . .” 

— U.S. Sen. John McClellan (D-Ark.)

Vol. 18, No. 3 – March 2019 

In each issue of “Exposed,” the National Right to Work Committee will highlight yet another example of union-boss abuse spawned and perpetuated by Big Labor’s government-granted privilege to force workers to pay union dues, or be fired.

A few weeks ago, roughly halfway through the 2018-19 school year, government union bosses in California waged a six-day school walkout that will cause the average teacher who obeyed strike orders to lose an estimated $2,250 from his or her annual salary.

The teachers who (at the behest of United Teachers of Los Angeles union officials) kept hundreds of thousands of children out of school for more than a week reaped little benefit from the strike. 

As even Randi Weingarten, the head of one of the two national unions with which the UTLA union hierarchy is affiliated, has admitted, “the basics” of the 6% salary increase educators received in the settlement were “offered by management before the strike even began”!

While striking teachers lost $2,250 apiece this year in order to get the same raises over the life of the contract they could have gotten without going on strike, UTLA bosses apparently reaped at least one major gain: a quiet commitment from Big Labor state legislators to funnel an additional $3 billion in taxpayer money into the state teacher pension fund. 

The bailout should enable the effectively insolvent Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) to avoid a state takeover for at least the next couple of years. 

Although UTLA union bosses and LAUSD executives often publicly denounce each other, the fact is that they have a common interest on key matters.  Specifically, they want to extract more money from state taxpayers for their jurisdiction and persuade state officials not to exercise their prerogative to take control over a district whose finances have undeniably been grossly mismanaged. 

The real targets of the UTLA strike were California Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders in Sacramento — not the LAUSD, the union hierarchy’s purported bargaining partner.  And the important decisions UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl and his lieutenants aimed successfully to influence were clearly political, not workplace-management decisions. 

In a perceptive editorial published January 24, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that this strike “reaffirms the wisdom” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus decision, which was a victory for independent-minded Illinois civil servant Mark Janus and his legal team, led by National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney William Messenger.

The Janus majority concluded, as the editorial went on to explain, that dealings between public officials and union bosses who are granted monopoly power to speak for entire groups of civil servants are “inherently political” and implicate “worker speech rights.”

Consequently, deals cut between government representatives and Big Labor that force civil servants, as a job condition, to support financially union-boss advocacy directed at public officials violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Government union bosses expended a yet-to-be disclosed, but undoubtedly hefty, sum of money to ensure the LAUSD strike was a success.  Thanks to Janus, Los Angeles teachers who saw through the UTLA façade and recognized the strike was not about protecting their interests, much less those of their students or taxpayers, should at least have been able to avoid bankrolling it by resigning from the union and cutting off all financial support for it.

Unfortunately, as the recent bitter experience of Porter Ranch Community School teacher Irene Seager shows, UTLA bosses are defying Janus even as LAUSD chiefs pretend they can’t help it if their employees’ constitutional rights are being violated.

Shortly after Janus was announced, Seager repeatedly notified the UTLA brass of her resignation and explicitly informed union bosses that she would not authorize them to take any more money out of her paycheck.

In response, UTLA kingpins have dubiously claimed Seager could only exercise her right to cease bankrolling the union during a 30-day period each year, and because her resignation had not occurred “at the right time” they would continue siphoning dues out of her paychecks, with the LAUSD’s assistance. Meanwhile, the LAUSD contends that, as long as union bosses say Seager is still a member, the district will continue to regard her as a member!

Right to Work attorneys are currently helping Seager sue UTLA bosses to get back the money they’ve illegally extracted from her, and end their constitutionally repellent curbs on resignations.  But union bigwigs have already succeeded, through their defiance of the Supreme Court, in staging a political strike at unwilling teachers’ expense.