After last-minute negotiations faltered Monday, Los Angeles Unified School District canceled classes Tuesday as members of Service Employees International Union Local 99 began a three-day strike. The members of SEIU Local 99 — which includes school cafeteria workers, custodians, special education assistants, bus drivers and other support staff — were joined by members of United Teachers Los Angeles.
Together, the unions represent around 65,000 employees of the nation's second-largest school district.
SEIU Local 99 members voted to authorize the strike in February, with 96% of members voting in favor, according to the union. The employees are calling for “equitable wage increases, more full-time work, increased staffing and respectful treatment on the job.”
In a statement posted to Twitter on Monday, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho called for the union to sit down with district leaders for negotiations to avoid a strike, saying, “We can find a solution that dignifies our workforce and avoids an unnecessary shutdown of schools while protecting the long term viability of the school system.”
Though the district tried to negotiate down to the wire Monday, Max Arias, executive director of SEIU Local 99, said in a statement that LAUSD broke a confidentiality agreement with the union by sharing with the media that bargaining was ongoing.
The California Public Employment Relations Board also rejected a last-minute request from LAUSD for an injunction that would have prevented the strike.