UTLA keeps current leader

Times Staff Writer

A.J. Duffy won a second term Thursday as president of United Teachers Los Angeles, the city’s powerful teachers union. The 64-year-old special education teacher won 58.7% of the vote, and will avoid a runoff.

“That’s big,” Duffy said. “That’s an affirmation by the membership that voted. Despite the missteps I might have taken, they acknowledged that I’ve done a good job. And they acknowledged I’ve always been there for members.”

Adult-school teacher Hector Tejeda said Duffy had both listened and delivered.

“For a long time the adult-school teachers had little or no representation in the union,” he said. “Duffy has been instrumental in presenting our needs and issues.”

The second-place finisher was a current union vice president, Linda Guthrie, who received 23.7% of votes. Former vice president Becki Robinson had 16.4%.


About 21% of union members cast ballots; low turnouts are typical in these elections.

Duffy’s slate, called United Action, won nearly every contest, and will continue the push for school-site control in which teachers play a prominent role.

One area under discussion is Woodland Hills Academy in the west San Fernando Valley. The union wants the school to receive directly nearly all the funds that normally filter down, diluted, from district headquarters. This goal closely resembles the agenda of the district’s mostly nonunion charter schools.

Duffy also promised to fight massive proposed cuts to the state education budget, which pleased district officials.

They were less happy with his insistence that L.A. Unified can afford salary raises for the 48,000 teachers, school psychologists and nurses he represents.

“There’s definitely going to be a zero this year,” said one senior official, who requested anonymity. “We have to find the common things we’re going to work on together, and it cannot be just salary.”

Duffy’s margin could prove a boon, said school board member Richard Vladovic.

“If you get someone who has a large power base, you’re able to work out issues,” Vladovic said. The late Helen Bernstein, a past UTLA president, was “tremendously powerful,” giving her space to “take risks,” he said.

Added board member Marlene Canter: “We have to make this relationship work. We’ve all raised our hands and said we want change.”

Complete election results are available at