For two years, teachers have accepted what the district has given them without direct action. Finally, after failed negotiations, the United Teachers Los Angeles declared a strike on Jan. 14. The strike lasted for six school days, resulting in a loss of 151.4 million dollars.
“Well, there’s many issues that have long been neglected, but the top three are class sizes, more positions [including] nurses and counselors, and lastly, pay raise,” said Carson High School social studies teacher Carlos Ruiz.
Many have their own thoughts as to why teachers really went on strike. Ultimately, it is clear that many factors affected the final decision to strike.
On Monday, the first day the strike officially started, many seemed to be touched because of the dedication, educators and many others exhibited. Being able to see teachers continue to fight for students’ rights left an impact on not only Carson Complex but on many across the United States where similar actions were seen in West Virginia, Arizona, and Colorado.
In and around the Los Angeles area, not only teachers but counselors, aides, nurses, librarians, parents and many others committed to picket whether it was a rainy day or during sunny skies.
“I decided to participate in a sympathy strike because of the conditions in the classroom including classroom sizes and a lack of support from downtown,” said Ms. Hayes, resource assistant at CHS. “Also, not having a full time librarian and nurse had a great impact [on many schools]. I don’t think the pay was what teachers were really fighting for but rather [improvement in] classes and conditions.”
During the strike, attendance drastically decreased resulting in a loss of funding for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the last day of the strike, roughly 124 out of 1,500 Carson High students [attended school] which was higher than the previous Friday where there were less than 100 students at school,” said Senior Officer Technician Ms. Lewis.
On the days of the strike, students were to report to the gym; they were not allowed to wander around campus.
CHS Assistant Principal Walter Rich explained that the reason why there were strict rules that students had to abide by was for their own safety due to a limited number of staff on hand.
Details of the strike include marching, protesting downtown, and even a rally in front of Carson Civic Center. At one of the largest rallies downtown, over 50,000 supporters attended.
“I went to Carson High School on Thursday, [Jan. 17] after the Civic Center rally to support my teachers who do everything for us,” said CHS junior Frances Suavillo.
The support from the community was overwhelming including donations and emotional support. Senior Ian Leui of Carson High School even used Venmo to collect funds from students and his own money in order to provide In-N-Out for those on strike.
“There was a tremendous outpouring of support, and we want to show people that we are very thankful. I wanted to pursue thanking the community with the same kind of aggressiveness that we pursued the picket line showing people that we appreciate what they did for us and that we didn’t forget it,” said CHS Social Studies teacher Ms. Vernon. “We posted signs around the school to thank the community. I’ve also thanked students and parents individually who dropped off stuff to the lines.”
Although public opinion was overwhelmingly supportive, there were some that were concerned about potential negative effects of the strike including athletes whose season was adversely affected.
“We can’t make up any of the games we lost except one; we are on our third game but we should be on our sixth. The strike helped future students, but took away our time as seniors,” said senior Leonna Logan.
After seven emotional days and long negotiations between the district and UTLA, a solution was eventually reached early Tuesday morning on Jan. 22. Highlights from the new contract that developed as a result of the strike include: a 6 percent pay raise for teachers, gradual reduction in class size, nurses and librarians in all secondary schools, and regulations regarding Charter schools.
School resumed on Wednesday, Jan. 23 where Colt Love resonated throughout the complex.
“Wednesday we didn’t skip a beat. Teachers were back on track. Students were here on time. It was nice to be back,” Juan Jauregui, Principal at the Academy of Medical Arts said.
“To walk out and fight for the basic needs of our students was never a question in my mind; our kids deserve to have the best education possible, and if that meant I had to fight for it, I was willing to do that. I would do it again,” said Academies of Education and Empowerment teacher Denise Rendon. “It was an exhausting week but the love, support, and encouragement that we received from our students, parents, and community was simply amazing…honestly, it’s what kept me going. I will be forever grateful to everyone who supported us! Last week our city showed us the true meaning of Colt Love!”
Now that the strike is over we see the importance of taking a stand for what’s right, even if it takes 6 days or how many other days to accomplish it.
by Nathan Maxwell and Kylie Solomua