Los Angeles school workers begin 3-day strike, canceling classes for half a million students

Los Angeles Unified School District, LAUSD teachers and members of Service Employees International Union 99 (SEIU) strike during heavy rain outside the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles.  Tens of thousands of workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District walked off the job Tuesday over deadlocked contract negotiations, and were joined by teachers in a three-day walkout that shut down the nation's second-largest school system School strike, Los Angeles, USA - March 21, 2023

Los Angeles Unified School District, LAUSD teachers and members of Service Employees International Union 99 (SEIU) strike during heavy rain outside the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles. Tens of thousands of workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District walked off the job Tuesday over deadlocked contract negotiations, and were joined by teachers in a three-day walkout that shut down the nation’s second-largest school system School strike, Los Angeles, USA – March 21, 2023

Dovarganes/AP/Shutterstock Los Angeles Unified School District workers on strike outside the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center

More than 400,000 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District are home from the walkout after a union representing tens of thousands of workers went on strike.

30,000 cafeteria workers, bus drivers, janitors and paraprofessionals from the SEIU Local 99 union began a three-day walkout Tuesday morning after ongoing contract negotiations stalled, according to KABC-TV.

“We know that a strike will be a sacrifice, but we also know that our families have been sacrificing for far too long on poverty wages,” Max Arias, executive director of SEIU Local 99, said at a recent rally, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The local teachers union, although not directly involved in the negotiations, is participating in a sympathy strike, according to CNN.

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), “has advised its members to support their SEIU colleagues, which means teachers may not be available to provide classroom instruction either,” according to information on the United Teachers Los Angeles website. district.

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Members of the SEIU Local 99 union have been in talks with LAUSD for nearly a year, according to CNN.

Union workers, who currently earn an average salary of $25,000, want “equitable pay increases, more full-time work, respectful treatment, and increased staffing levels to improve student services,” they said, according to the outlet.

His last contract expired in 2020, according to Arias, reported The New York Times. In February, members voted in favor of the strike, according to the newspaper.

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LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced Monday that schools will remain closed during the strike.

In a statement, Carvalho said he hoped to have a “transparent and honest conversation” that “may result in a meaningful solution that prevents a strike,” according to KABC-TV.

“For a number of reasons, some of which I didn’t understand, we were never in the same room or even in the same building,” he added. “We’ve run out of time.”

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On Monday afternoon, Arias said the union “had agreed to start a confidential mediation process with LAUSD to try to address our differences,” according to the outlet.

“Unfortunately, LAUSD broke that confidentiality by sharing it with the media before our bargaining team, which makes all the decisions, had a chance to discuss how to proceed,” Arias said. “This is yet another example of the school district’s continued disrespect for school workers. We are ready to strike.”

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Instruction in the nation’s second-largest school district was last disrupted by a strike in 2019, when the teachers’ union picketed for six days in an effort to win higher wages and smaller classes, according to CNN.

For students who need supervision or food assistance during the current strike, which will end Thursday, services will be provided from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at limited elementary, middle and high school campuses, the district said.

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