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Why Teachers Are Striking: Responding to the Board of Advisors


Dear Families and UCLA Lab School Community,


On January 18th lab school families received a letter from the UCLA Lab School Board of Advisors with information about the negotiations between UC Management and Demonstration Teachers. Demonstration Teachers were not sent this email. The Advisory Board’s purpose is to “advise and assist” and “foster open and constructive communication between UCLA Lab School and the community it serves.” In the letter, they claim to be a neutral party, but the information they have provided clearly reflects the positions the lab school administration has taken throughout this bargaining process. The letter did not accurately represent the teachers’ perspective.

IMG_3274.jpegBelow is our teacher perspective on a couple of key points the board posed in their email.


While salary is important to our members, it is not what this strike is about. This is not an economic strike. It is an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike.


We have been forced into this strike because UC Management has violated our rights to bargain by delaying the process and denying our right to negotiate anything other than salary. Since our side letter expired in 2019, administration has also made changes to our school’s past practices without allowing teachers the opportunity to negotiate. Our goal is to preserve the integrity of our school and establish the solid foundation we need to move into the future.


There are two parties in these negotiations: UCLA Lab School Demonstration Teachers who belong to UC-AFT, and UC Management with UCLA Lab School administration. From the beginning, UCLA Lab School administration has claimed that our negotiations are being driven by an outside entity called “the union.” Demonstration teachers are our union! Our proposals reflect the concerns and issues of Demonstration Teachers and were developed, written, and presented by lab school teachers.


In the 20 proposals we have presented since August 2022, we are attempting to protect and build upon many of the longstanding practices that make our school the joyful, collaborative, innovative, excellent place of learning that it has been for its 141-year history.


Our proposals aim to ensure excellent learning conditions for all children through:

  • Teaching assistants for all classrooms and Specialists
  • Social emotional learning and safety for all students
  • Classroom budgets to support inquiry-based, equity-centered learning
  • Caps on class size
  • Timely hiring of Instructional Assistants to support neurodiverse learners
  • Substitute coverage when teachers are absent
  • Timeline for installing functional heat and air conditioning throughout the school
  • Teacher involvement in school decision-making
  • Professional development funds for teachers
  • Recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers with consistent, transparent hiring and review processes

At our first bargaining sessions, Demonstration Teachers attempted to negotiate ground rules that would allow “open bargaining” so that lab school families could attend negotiations and observe the process. UC Management refused. Why is UC Management opposed to this transparency?


Contrary to the board's inaccurate claims, our previous side letter agreements have addressed these concerns: aspects of the calendar (e.g. length of instructional day), professional development, personal leave days, merit reviews, stipends, and more. We are being denied the right to negotiate these because UC Management states that it does not believe it is mandated to bargain a full scope of topics. UC-AFT disagrees. These aspects of our jobs should be part of our negotiations; not including them is a violation of past practices and previous contractual agreements. Please also understand that at any time, regardless of legal obligation, UC Management and Principal Lazo could simply choose to negotiate any topic whatsoever. They refuse to do so.


The University of California Office of the President Labor Relations Office does have final sign-off on any agreement, but UC Management, including Georgia Lazo, UCLA Lab School principal, are responsible for negotiating the contract. The board claims Principal Lazo is “not empowered to determine the terms, scope, scheduling, or practice of bargaining or the terms ultimately covered in the side letter.” Previous UCLA Lab School principals have negotiated and suggested terms. It only makes sense that these agreements would be informed by Principal Lazo since she is the only person on UC Management’s team from the lab school.


When the other two K-12 schools on UC campuses negotiated their comprehensive side letters, school administrators were active participants in negotiations and the University did not hire an outside attorney. Demonstration Teachers want to know why an outside attorney was hired to negotiate with us, how much the attorney is being paid, and who is paying this attorney.


Tina Christie, Dean of Ed&IS, and the advisory board continue to inform families that UC Management has suggested mediation. Mediation generally happens when parties have reached an impasse (after both sides have offered their last and best offer). There is nothing to mediate when the University refuses to bargain.


Supporting this ULP strike does not necessarily mean you agree with all of our current proposals. It means you support our right to negotiate these important matters regarding teaching and learning conditions.


Believe teachers!



UCLA Lab School Demonstration Teachers