Los Angeles School Workers Go on 3-Day Strike, Canceling Classes for Half a Million Students
Dovarganes/AP/Shutterstock Los Angeles Unified School District workers striking outside the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center
More than 400,000 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District are home from school after a union representing tens of thousands of workers went on strike.
30,000 cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians and paraprofessionals in the SEIU Local 99 union began a three-day strike on Tuesday morning after ongoing contract negotiations stalled, according to KABC-TV.
"We know 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, the SEIU Local 99 executive director, said at a recent rally, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The local teacher's union, although not directly involved in the negotiations, is participating in a solidarity strike, per CNN.
United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), "has advised their members to support their SEIU colleagues, which means teachers may also not be available to provide classroom instruction," according to information on the district's website.
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Members of the SEIU Local 99 union have been in talks with the LAUSD for nearly a year, according to CNN.
Union workers, who currently earn an average salary of $25,000, want "equitable wage increases, more full-time work, respectful treatment, and increased staffing levels for improved student services," they said, per the outlet.
Their last contract expired in 2020, according to Arias, reported The New York Times. In February, members voted to strike, per the newspaper.
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LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced on Monday that schools will be closed throughout the strike.
In a statement, Carvalho said he had hoped to have a "transparent, honest conversation" that "perhaps would result in a meaningful solution that would avoid a strike," according to KABC-TV.
"For a host of reasons, some of which I did not 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 that the union "had agreed to enter a confidential mediation process with LAUSD to try and address our differences,'' per the outlet.
"Unfortunately, LAUSD broke that confidentiality by sharing it with the media before our bargaining team, which makes all decisions, had a chance to discuss how to proceed," Arias said. "This is yet another example of the school district's continued disrespect of school workers. We are ready to strike."
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Instruction at the nation's second-largest school district was last interrupted by a strike in 2019, when the teachers' union hit the picket line for six days in an effort to achieve higher pay and smaller class sizes, according to CNN.
For students who are in need of supervision or food assistance during the current strike — which is set to end on Thursday — services will be provided from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at limited elementary, middle and high school campuses, the district said.