- Thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District employees will be on strike in the nation’s second-largest school system for three days starting Tuesday, March 21, members of Service Employees International Union Local 99 announced during a rally Wednesday night. Employees represented by SEIU include school cafeteria workers, custodians, special education assistants, bus drivers and other support staff.
- United Teachers Los Angeles, a union representing over 35,000 teachers in the district, will also join the strike, according to SEIU Local 99.
- In a Monday email to district families, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the school system would likely shut down if a strike moved forward by unions representing both teachers and support staff — a total of up to 65,000 employees, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In February, 96% of SEIU Local 99 members approved the authorization of a strike at LAUSD, the union said in a statement. Contract negotiations with the district have been in the works for about a year, and employees are calling for “equitable wage increases, more full-time work, increased staffing and respectful treatment on the job,” SEIU Local 99 said.
The union noted the average annual salary of these LAUSD employees is $25,000, often on a part-time basis.
In a March 14 statement, LAUSD officials said they have offered SEIU Local 99 members 5% ongoing wage increases and a 4% one-time bonus for 2022-23, in addition to another 5% wage increase and a 5% one-time bonus for 2023-24. LAUSD has also proposed limiting class sizes in all schools, with more reductions and increased staffing in schools with the highest needs.
Following the announcement of both unions’ plans to strike next week, Carvalho issued a statement Wednesday saying “it is deeply surprising and disappointing that there is an unwillingness” among SEIU Local 99 to negotiate. LAUSD has proposed “a historic offer” with more additional resources awaiting discussion, according to Carvalho.
He asked leaders of both unions to continue negotiations and step back from their planned strike to keep students in schools.
“We need to reach a resolution that honors the work of our dedicated employees, while respecting the rights our children have to a quality education, meals and access to enriching school activities,” Carvalho said. “I want to personally apologize to our families and our students. You deserve better. Know that we are doing everything possible to avoid a strike.”
January 2019 marked the last time LAUSD faced a districtwide strike led by more than 30,000 members from the local teachers union. Schools remained open, but attendance in the 500,000-student district only amounted to about 100,000 during the six-day strike.
Once the strike ended, a contract negotiated with the teachers’ union included a majority of members’ requests. Among them were a commitment by LAUSD to expand community schools, to call for a statewide moratorium on charter schools, and to work with the city to replace empty portable classrooms with green space.