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United Teachers Los Angeles (1970-) | Special Collections & Archives

Name: United Teachers Los Angeles (1970-)

Historical Note:

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) was formed in 1970, through the merger of the Association of Classroom Teachers of Los Angeles (ACT-LA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Local 1021. At the time, UTLA was the second-largest teacher's union and largest merged teacher's union in the nation. After the new merger of UTLA and ACT-LA was ratified in February 1970, the new union was a combined NEA/CTA and AFT/CFT local. A layered leadership structure was put in place that would ensure representation of each national/state organization at the highest levels of UTLA.

In April 1970 the newly merged union declared a teacher’s strike, demanding a contract. The strike lasted four and a half weeks, and led to a mutually-satisfactory contract that was subsequently thrown out by the courts after lawsuits were brought against both the union and the school board by disgruntled CTA members and a citizen taxpayer group. As a result, roughly 5,000 teachers left the union, the vast majority of whom were former members of ACT-LA.

Soon thereafter, each group sought to dislodge the other from the National Education Association. The dispute started when leaders of CTA asked NEA to disaffiliate UTLA because of the strike they deemed illegal. UTLA countered by backing a new organization, United Teacher Associations of California (UTAC) in an attempt to siphon off the more militant members of CTA, and eventually supplant it as the state organization of the NEA. In April of 1972, an agreement was reached between CTA, NEA, UTLA, and UTAC to dissolve UTAC and give financial backing, chiefly from the CTA, to help support UTLA. In 1973, CTA once again disaffiliated with UTLA over a dues dispute. The antagonism between the two associations was finally buried in 1976, as the CTA once again re-affiliated with UTLA.

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