Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a former teachers union employee and staunch union supporter, decided yesterday he'd finally had enough and delivered a stinging speech calling the LA teachers union, among other things, "one unwavering roadblock to reform." Needless to say, union president A.J. Duffy was unhappy:
Furious union representatives denounced the mayor's comments as those of a turncoat who seemed to ignore the pernicious effects of state budget cuts and had joined in a union-bashing chorus once associated with conservative Republicans. Some seemed bewildered at what they considered a betrayal from Villaraigosa, who defines himself as a "progressive" politician and man of the left.
"Pointing fingers and laying blame does not help improve our schools," UTLA President A.J. Duffy said in a terse statement. "UTLA will continue our partnership with all parties to overcome the devastating effects of the budget cuts on the education program for our students."
I'm not plugged into Los Angeles politics even slightly, but I sometimes wonder if Duffy understands just how widely his union is loathed? Somebody should correct me in comments if I'm wrong, but as near as I can tell from my occasional contact with Angelenos, UTLA almost literally has no support anywhere from anybody that it doesn't directly give money to. Everybody else hates them with a passion. That doesn't mean Villaraigosa can win a big public battle with UTLA, of course, since they give lots of money to lots of people, but he might. If Villaraigosa plays his cards right, he'll have about 90% of the city on his side. Pass the popcorn.