On September 27, 2023, Beachy Avenue Elementary School anticipated the arrival of LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo, with the aim of inaugurating a new green space play area. Little did Carvalho know that he would be walking into a bold statement of unity and power, orchestrated by UTLA members at the site. 

Not willing to let the day be a mere photo-op, Beachy’s Contract Action Team (CAT), a core UTLA site structure, seized the opportunity to protest the district’s attempt to undermine employee healthcare in current negotiations.  

The educators organized an innovative protest: Parking spaces nearest to the playground were occupied by cars adorned with banners boldly quoting the superintendent’s own words: “Healthcare is a Human Right  —Alberto Carvahlo, May 24, 2023.” The banners called out Carvalho for not living up to his words in the ongoing healthcare negotiations. 

Adding fuel to the educators’ fire, during the planning phase of their action, Carvahlo’s office made an autocratic move to limit participation at the green space ribbon-cutting event, sidelining the decision to have students and staff there that was made by the school’s own Local School Leadership Council. 

For Beachy, that disrespect and attempt to silence the voices of educators and parents is connected to the disrespect on display in healthcare negotiations. After delaying the start of negotiations, LAUSD came to the table with a proposal to dismantle the union-majority Health Benefits Committee, a move to suppress union representation in healthcare decisions and make it easier to implement cuts and pass on healthcare costs to employees. Dismantling the HBC would jeopardize the healthcare system that has safeguarded LAUSD employees for decades. The eight employee unions have unanimously rejected these proposals. 

Beachy Avenue educators were not going to let Carvalho come and go from their campus without sending him a message: Educators know their worth, are conscious of their collective strength, and will not let their voices be stifled by district administrators. Respect and rights aren’t requests; they are demands.