(President Alex Caputo-Pearl's speech in its entirety)
Welcome to the 2016 UTLA Leadership Conference!
What an honor to be introduced by two long-distance runners in the struggle for educational justice. Thank you, Byron and Eunice, for all you’re doing for public schools in LA.
It’s a great reminder that every piece of this work depends on having a team. I’ve got a great team working with me: Cecily Myart-Cruz, our NEA VP, with her connection to community and ability to move groups of people with charisma and passion; Betty Forrester, our AFT VP, with her big picture analysis and eye for the 100% right position on all issues; Juan Ramirez, our Elementary VP, with his soulful organizing and thirst for taking on the District about instructional issues; Colleen Schwab, our Secondary VP, who takes on the District for the professional rights of our members but works with school sites in a collaborative way to solve problems; Arlene Inouye, our Treasurer, with her bedrock calm, unwavering perseverance, and inspiring sense of justice; Daniel Barnhart, our Secretary, with his amazing technical expertise and his ability to support schools through campaigns. And, Jeff Good, our Executive Director, with his focus, discipline, and eagerness to throw punches at those who would undermine public education.
Cecily, Betty, Juan, Colleen, Arlene, Daniel, Jeff – it is incredible to share work and life with all of you.
My most important teammates, of course, are my wife Anne, my 9-year-old Ella, and my 12-year-old Max.
Ella’s always teaching me things. When we were water sliding together this summer, she told me, “Dad, when you go down the slide, hold onto your hat, because if your hat falls off on the slide, it will embarrass me. And, Dad, when you’re coming down the slide, make a face of a character from a movie and see if I can guess who it is.” Water slide, holding the hat, making a face – truly a great lesson for me in multi-tasking.
Max is developing into an organizer. When we were at my parents’ house this summer, he was asking all of us to come down to the creek behind the house with him to catch frogs and build forts. We were in the middle of something, so we said we couldn’t, and we thought that was that. An hour later, I saw Max walking back from the creek with my 77-year-old father and 78-year-old mother, wet with creek-water, 5 frogs in hand, a bunch of bamboo shoots, and a couple of saws. If you can organize people to do that, you’ve got a future in the field.
And, none of this would happen without Anne. As a labor and delivery nurse, the union rep on her floor, and a great partner, mother, and daughter, she keeps us always moving forward, through the good times and the challenging times.
I love you, Anne, Max, and Ella.
Speaking of love, give yourselves some love for building another historic year for UTLA.
Who led over the last year? Your UTLA Board of Directors. Your UTLA field directors and our multi-talented staff. Our allies and affiliate partners from around the state and country, including CFT, CTA, AFT, & NEA. And the most important leaders of our Union, our backbone – chapter chairs, co-chairs, vice chairs, steering committee members, and leaders at work sites. Give yourselves a huge round of applause.
For the team that has been working non-stop to build this weekend – members of the Leadership Conference committee – and for the workers here at the Bonaventure, let’s give another huge round of applause.
So, last year, we continued moving forward because of two things – an unapologetic perspective that we must protect, improve, and expand public education, and an approach that builds power through the five strategies of member organizing, parent/community organizing, contract bargaining, political action, and communications.
What did we move forward on?
We won a re-opener bargaining agreement, ratified by 97% of voting members, that reflects the next steps in fighting for control of our profession, including a Our Priorities Unveiled | UTLA: