LAUSD strike looms as solution cannot be reached

On Friday, a potentially dangerous strike by service workers was scheduled to close the campuses of the Los Angeles Unified School District for three days, and there is little hope that any solution will be reached before Tuesday’s planned strike.

The rally is scheduled for Saturday at 10:00 am in front of the Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters at 333 S. Beaudry Avenue. Organizers say they intend to support LAUSD caretakers, bus drivers, canteen workers, special education assistants, gardeners and teachers.

Saturday Rally for LAUSD Workers Scheduled in Downtown Los Angeles


On Friday, parents of school district students speculated about what would happen if there was a strike.

“The superintendent will see how bad things get in three days,” said Frank Sopapunta, a parent outside of Coldwater Canyon Elementary School. “What happens if this goes on for a week, or a month, or however long they strike?”

It was unclear when and if Service Employees International Local 99, which represents about 30,000 canteen workers, bus drivers, caretakers, special education assistants and other workers, would return to the bargaining table with the county.

District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said LAUSD officials were ready to negotiate and could even potentially sweeten their latest offer of compensation and benefits, but union officials said they were waiting for the state’s mediator to schedule new negotiations and were not interested in simply listening. district opinion. repeat previous proposals that the union has already rejected.

In a statement Thursday evening, SEIU99 Executive Director Max Arias issued a statement accusing the county of misleading the public about the motives behind the planned three-day strike.

“This strike is out of respect for essential workers, who have been treated by LAUSD for far too long as a second-rate workforce,” Arias said.

He accused the county of harassing union members and unfair labor practices.

Carvalho countered that the union “simply refuses to negotiate”, calling it “profoundly surprising and disappointing for the unwillingness to negotiate”.

On Friday, the district was due to hold labor relations talks – not with SEIU, but with United Teachers Los Angeles, the powerful teachers’ union, which said its more than 30,000 members would picket SEIU. UTLA is pushing for a 20% raise for its employees. SEIU is looking for roughly 30%, saying many of its workers earn wages of around $25,000 a year.

The three-day strike scheduled for next week will be the first major labor disruption in the district since UTLA teachers went on a six-day strike in 2019. Mayor’s office and middleman in a deal between the county and the union.

Zach Seidl, a spokesman for Mayor Karen Bass, said Friday that Bass is “closely monitoring the situation and engaging with all parties involved.”

County officials said last week that Carvalho made SEIU Local 99 “one of the strongest offers ever made by a Los Angeles Unified superintendent.”

According to the county, the offer included a 5% pay increase backdated to July 2021, another 5% increase backdated to July 2022, and another 5% increase effective July 2023, as well as a 4% bonus. in 2022–2023 and a 5% bonus. in 2023-24

On Wednesday, Carvalho told a press conference that “15% plus 10% does not represent the end of the road, we have more resources and we pointed that out to the union.”

On Wednesday, at a rally in Grand Park, the union announced that the strike would begin on Tuesday. In February, workers represented by the SEIU voted to allow the union to go on strike if negotiations fail.

On Monday, Carvalho sent a message to parents and district staff saying that a strike by more than 60,000 workers would likely mean the closure of all schools in the district.

“We simply wouldn’t have the ability to provide a safe and secure environment in which learning can take place,” Carvalho said. “We will give you as much advance notice as possible, but we encourage you to start negotiations with your employer, caregivers and others now.”

Carvalho on Wednesday lamented the possibility of a strike that could lead to school closures, following extended campus closures that have impacted student learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What are the consequences? The consequences are once again loss of learning, loss of the safety and protection that schools provide for our children, deprivation of the food and nutrition on which many of our children depend,” Carvalho said. “I know that we are focusing our attention on the needs of the workforce. I also need to focus my attention first and foremost on the needs of our children.”

Unions have repeatedly said that the district has a projected $4.9 billion reserve fund for 2022-2023 to invest in workers and efforts to improve education through reduced class sizes and full staffing of all campuses.

“Workers are fed up with living on meager wages and having their jobs threatened by demands for fair pay. a week.

“We demand that LAUSD stop its illegal activities or workers are ready to take stronger action to protest this unfair practice. Terminating our contract is not an easy decision to make. But it is clear that LAUSD does not respect or value the work of essential workers. in our schools.”

Carvalho disputed that $4.9 billion figure, telling ABC7 on Thursday that an auditor looking at the county’s books concluded that such a reserve fund was “a lie.”

The superintendent said he remains hopeful the strike can be avoided, but if it does, the district plans to provide food distribution centers for students and provide educational packages for students to work on at home during the strike.

SEIU workers have been working without a contract since June 2020.

In December, the union said negotiations had stalled, leading to the appointment of a government mediator.

In addition to demands for wages, union officials also allege shortages caused by “over-reliance on a low-wage, part-time workforce”. The union claimed shortfalls, including:

– Lack of teacher assistants, special education assistants and other learning support to address learning backlogs and performance gaps;

— poor-quality cleaning and disinfection in school campuses due to lack of attendants;

– compromised campus security by overworking campus assistants and playground custodians, and,

– limited developmental programs, extracurricular activities and parent participation programs due to reduced working hours and lack of health benefits for out-of-school workers and community members.

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