Los Angeles school workers, teachers plan to strike next week, impacting 420,000 students

Empty School Desks in Classroom
Photo: RODNAE Productions/Pexels

Schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District are slated to experience a three-day closure next week after the school worker union announced the strike for higher pay and better working conditions.

According to reporting by the LA Times and announcements from SEIU Local 99, school workers and teachers are scheduled to strike Tuesday to Thursday, effectively closing the nation’s second largest school district and impacting 420,000 students.

SEIU Local 99, which represents cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, paraprofessionals and other workers, said in announcing the strike that it has been negotiating with the district since April last year and argues the district has treated its workers unfairly.

United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents 30,000 teachers in the district, indicated that it would honor the strike and ask teachers to stay out of class for the days that the school workers are on strike. 

The districts’ superintendent said in a statement that the union is not working with the district.

“SEIU is simply refusing to negotiate,” Alberto M. Carvalho said. “With a historic offer on the table that was created in direct response to SEIU’s demands, and with additional resources still to be negotiated, it is deeply surprising and disappointing that there is an unwillingness to do so.”

“I want to personally apologize to our families and our students,” Carvalho said. “You deserve better. Know that we are doing everything possible to avoid a strike.”

The union claims the district’s use of low-wage, part-time employees are causing labor shortages. The union says the average pay for school workers in the district is $25,000 a year. 

“If LAUSD is truly serious about negotiating, they must begin by addressing and recognizing the blatant harassment of workers who are exercising their legal right to demand improvements to their wages and work hours and increased staffing for the student services they provide,” Max Arias, SEIU Local 99 executive director, said in a statement Thursday. 

The union claims that the district harassed workers for participating in union activities and says it has filed dozens of unfair labor practice charges against administrators. The union contends that in one case, food service workers were locked in a cafeteria to prevent them from voting on the strike last month.

Carvalho asked the unions to continue to negotiate with the district.

“To the union leadership – SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias and UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz – we are waiting for you,” Carvalho said in the statement. “Our offer to continue to negotiate is still on the table until a resolution is reached. Let’s work together to avoid a strike and keep our students in schools.”

Brendan Clarey
Brendan Clarey is K-12 editor at Chalkboard Review. Reach him at bclarey@franklinnews.org.

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