As part of a continuing trend towards recognition by liberals alongside conservatives that public sector unions do not act in the public interest, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a democrat, has delivered a blistering attack on the union representing public school teachers in Los Angeles.
Joe Matthews in Fox & Hounds Daily has published the verbatim transcript of Mayor Villaraigosa’s remarks in his post of December 8th entitled “Villaraigosa’s game-changing speech.” Because Villaraigosa, who has confronted the teachers union in the past, chose to deliver this speech in Sacramento at the Public Policy Institute of California conference for state legislators, his remarks signify a major escalation in his confrontation with the union. Here are some of Villaraigosa’s remarks:
“Over the past five years, while partnering with students, parents and non-profits, business groups, higher education, charter organizations, school district leadership, elected board members and teachers, there has been one, unwavering roadblock to reform: UTLA union leadership.”
“And partnering with civil rights organizations and the ACLU, we filed a lawsuit to take a stand against the practice of seniority-based layoffs, which were disproportionately affecting our poorest schools and students of color. At every step of the way, when Los Angeles was coming together to effect real change in our public schools, UTLA was there to fight against the change and slow the pace of reform.”
When one considers the reforms Villaraigosa is fighting for – teacher accountability, management flexibility, financial transparency – it is easy to see a nonpartisan consensus forming. Like many Democrats, Villaraigosa’s background includes union organizing. But like many conscientious liberal politicians, he is realizing public sector unions have become a special interest that is not putting the needs of the public – especially, in this case, students – in front of their own agenda.