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Union Fearmongering

By Chantal Lovell

Fearmongering is exhausting.

Just ask United Teachers Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz, whose reign relies heavily on her membership continuing to live in fear. In her latest address to members, Myart-Cruz stressed the importance of taking care of oneself, particularly during May when the union celebrates wellness and mental health.

“Get some much-needed rest,” she said, explaining that COVID-19 had been just so exhausting. “Try not to do so much.”

Nevermind the fact that UTLA members have largely been working only partial days at home for 431 days now. What’s with the fearmongering, Cecily?

If Cecily and government unions truly cared about the mental health of teachers, they might share some facts about the COVID-19 situation in California, all of which are increasingly encouraging and confirm it’s safe for kids and teachers to physically be in school. They might share that, while the future is always unknown, we are on a positive trajectory, and each day brings new experts and leaders across the political spectrum calling for a return to normalcy.

For weeks now, California has had the lowest COVID-19 rates in the country, and that continues to be true. The state’s vaccination rate is climbing, with 54 percent of Californians having received at least one dose. In Los Angeles, where over 600,000 students remain largely locked out of the classroom with little hope of returning in the fall, the numbers are similarly encouraging.

As with most parts of California, the county’s case rate is currently the lowest it has been since the start of the pandemic, dropping from more than 150 cases per 100,000 residents, to 2.6. The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in intensive care units has plummeted. The list of positive indicators – from rapidly approaching herd immunity to the growing research showing children just don’t spread this virus – goes on and on.

So, why is Myart-Cruz addressing her followers with such despair? Why is she lamenting the worst moments of the past 14 months, rather than highlighting how far we’ve come and leading the charge to return to normalcy now that a mountain of evidence says it’s safe to do so?

Perhaps she’s realizing the union’s jig is almost up. In nearly every other state, gone are the days of unions dragging in their heels, convincing parents it’s just not safe to return to school, and demanding concessions in exchange for completing their essential work. Outside of California, students long ago fully returned to school. Even within California, those who attend private and charter schools that are free from union control – like Governor Gavin Newsom’s children – have been learning in-person since the fall.

The United Teachers Los Angeles has extracted record-level concessions on the backs of students, as the California Policy Center explained this week in Fox News. It shows no sign of relenting, and students stand to lose yet another school year if the LAUSD Board of Education fails to intervene.

This union in particular, as have many others, repeatedly accused President Donald Trump of using fear tactics to advance his political agenda. Perhaps Cecily and her counterparts should take a dose of their own medicine and stop pushing a narrative that’s not good for anyone’s mental health.


Originally published by the California Policy Center. Republished with permission.


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