Across the country, teacher strikes have become common as educators fight for fair wages. Of the 533,000 American workers who went on strike last year, teachers were the largest group, according to an Alex Caputo-Pearl op-ed in the Washington Post. The two largest strikes were statewide educator strikes in Arizona and Oklahoma, but teachers from the deep South to Denver to Los Angeles have been on the picket line in the last 12 months.
LA’s teacher strike in January saw 33,000-plus educators walk out, the first time in 30 years LA teachers have gone on strike.
In Long Beach, teachers have never gone on strike, thanks in large part to a strong relationship between the Long Beach Unified School District and its teacher’s union. That continued with the approval of a new agreement between the city’s largest employer and its largest union.
At March 27th’s LBUSD School Board meeting the board unanimously adopted tentative agreements with the Teachers Association of Long Beach (TALB.) The agreement includes a 2% raise for LBUSD K-12, CDC and Head Start Teachers and was already ratified by TALB with over 97% approval.
Long Beach continuing its streak of not having had a strike comes at a time when urban districts across the state have seen labor actions–in addition to LA, Oakland’s teachers had a week-long strike, highlighting how unique Long Beach is. LBUSD superintendent Chris Steinhauser attributes that to “relationships, communication, and transparency” between the district and its more than 12,000 employees.
“We have a great relationship with our labor partners and we’re very excited” Steinhauser said. “We had a great negation as always. We’ve very pleased that the contract benefits both sides, and we’re especially happy that we can offer a salary increase. And I can’t thank the teachers enough, they do a great job. Negations are a two way street and when you have that type of relationship they go much smoother.”
Representatives from TALB did not respond to a request for comment.
It’s an important agreement for the city as well. With 12,808 employees according to the most recent city financial report, the LBUSD has more than two times as many employees as the second-largest employer in the city. TALB also represents the city’s largest workforce.
–Earlier in the Board meeting a group of LBUSD dual immersion teachers addressed the board to complain that the current 9th and 10th grade Spanish instruction overlaps with the current Middle School Spanish language classes, therefore setting advanced-placement level Spanish-speakers two years behind other districts with similar programs.
After the meeting Steinhauser said, “Long Beach has always been very collaborative (with teachers). What we do is keep lines of communication open on regular basis. Like we saw earlier tonight, teachers are 100% the drivers of the textbook selection.”
–The Board also had a public hearing on, and unanimously approved, adoption of solar power at 21 elementary and middle schools. Solar panels are already in place at McBride, Cabrillo, Lakewood and Millikan high schools. Under the new agreement, schools that currently have Air Conditioning will get 50% of the school-wide power from Solar and schools that don’t have AC will get 80%.