Like the 2006 strike of 30,000 NYC transit workers, and the 2012 strike of 30,000 Chicago teachers, the 2019 Los Angeles teacher strike made the lives of tens and hundreds of thousands of ordinary people better. A nurse and librarian in every school, enforceable class size caps, some regulation on the activities of charter schools, open consideration of gentrifying impact of public schools vs charters, even limits on police searches and other activities inside schools were achieved.
Jane McAlevey is author of No Shortcuts, Organizing For Power in the New Gilded Age. Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), which represents 30,000 Los Angeles teachers.
On the organizing side, this was achieved by building up the union's ability to work with local communities outside the workplace. UTLA leaders planned for a likely strike as much as four years out. They persuaded supermajorities of their members to approve a dues increase, which they used to field organizing and research departments and implement repeated stress testing of the quality of their organizing.
On the policy side, opposition to school privatization was muted under the reign of the First Black President, as he and most of the black elite were leading advocates of privatization.
Jane McAlevey observes, not for the first time, that if the organizing resources labor has devoted to the not very effective campaign to organize fast food workers were devoted instead to organizing teachers, health care workers beginning with nurses, and Amazon, organized labor would have numbers at least comparable to those it achieved in the 1950s.