Classes in the nation’s second-largest school district will resume on Friday after a three-day workers’ strike halted classroom instruction for half a million students.
Thousands of service workers, backed by teachers, went on strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on Tuesday, chanting and marching in public places during a storm that brought rain, wind and freezing temperatures .
Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represents some 30,000 teacher aides, special education aides, bus drivers, janitors, cafeteria workers and other support staff, went on strike when contract negotiations stalled, causing schools to close temporarily.
Thousands of parents and children are seeking solutions after LAUSD had to close all of its schools during a strike by service workers. reports Alejandra Ortiz.
Teachers joined rain-soaked groups early Tuesday as workers demanded better pay and more staff before marching to a large rally outside district headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.
Some had signs saying “We keep schools safe, please respect us!” The district has more than 500,000 students from Los Angeles and 25 other cities and unincorporated areas of the county. Nearly three-quarters are Latinos.
Leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents 35,000 educators, counselors and other staff, earlier pledged to stand in solidarity with the protests.
Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho accused the union of refusing to negotiate and said he was ready to meet at any time of the day or night.
During the walkout, about 150 of the district’s more than 1,000 schools remained open with adult supervision but no instruction, so students had somewhere to go. In addition, dozens of libraries, parks and other places have opened their doors to provide food and activities for students.
The union says district support staff earn an average of around $25,000 a year and many live in poverty due to low wages or limited hours of work as they battle inflation and cost high housing in Los Angeles County. The union is asking for a 30% raise. The teachers want a 20% salary increase in two years.
A three-day strike, which would close public schools in Los Angeles, would begin on Tuesday, March 21. Parents are looking for answers about what might happen to their children’s education.
The district proposed a cumulative increase of 23%, starting at 2% retroactive to the 2020-21 school year and ending at 5% in 2024-25. The package would also include a one-time 3% bonus for those who have worked for more than a year, as well as more full-time positions and an extension of healthcare benefits.
SEIU members have been working without contracts since June 2020, while teachers’ contracts expired in June 2022. The unions decided last week not to accept any further extensions to their contracts.
Teachers went on a six-day strike in 2019 over pay and contract issues, but schools remained open.
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