Los Angeles School District Union Strike Concludes, Still No Deal

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
March 24, 2023California

The Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) staff union, SEIU Local 99, is on its final day of a three-day strike on March 23, while negotiations continue for better wages and increased staffing in schools.

The union will conclude its walkout Thursday with a rally at the Los Angeles State Historic Park and return to work Friday, according to a union statement.

LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho repeatedly attempted to avoid the strike by bargaining with the union—and on March 22, the district announced it had entered negotiations with the union, and that negotiations are being moderated by LA Mayor Karen Bass. No contract settlement has been announced.

“We continue to do everything possible to reach an agreement that honors the hard work of our employees, corrects historic inequities, maintains the financial stability and brings our kids back to the classroom,” the statement read. “We are hopeful these talks continue and look forward to updating our school community on a resolution.”

SEIU Local 99, the union representing the district’s 30,000 non-teaching staff—including cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, and special education assistants—launched the three-day strike on March 21.
United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), the union representing 35,000 LAUSD teachers, also joined in.

The strike has disrupted schedules for the district’s 420,000 students.

A spokesperson for SEIU Local 99 told The Epoch Times that its members plan on returning to work Friday, March 24 after the strike ends.

District officials are also making efforts to minimize the impact of the strike on families.

LAUSD is offering student supervision all three days from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at several campuses throughout the district.

It also partnered with the city of LA to distribute meals—up to six meals per student—on March 21. About 124,600 meals were distributed to 1,350 students, according to district officials.

Community Impact

Francis Calderon, a former LAUSD employee and co-founder of advocacy group LA Parents and Educators United, told The Epoch Times she believed the strike will have the biggest impact on the district’s students, many of whom are still struggling to overcome pandemic-induced learning loss.

According to data released by the district in September, about 42 percent of students met English standards, while only 28 percent met those for mathematics.

“The kids are the ones missing out,” she said. “There’s still so much learning loss, especially among those kids who need special education or services.”

Calderon added she believed that UTLA is influencing SEIU Local 99’s decisions, trying to use the strike to get elements of its “Beyond Recovery Platform”—such as increased staffing and paid planning and professional days.

“I do agree that the staff deserves higher pay, but I believe the strike has been hijacked by UTLA,” she said.

Erica Quezada, a parent of three children in the district, agreed that the district’s staff deserved higher pay, but said the strike was the wrong way to demand such.

“The real issue is the cost of living in California,” Quezada told The Epoch Times in a previous interview. “This is something that they need to take to the governor. People cannot pay their rent or mortgage … but it needs to be solved at the state level, not by striking.”

Negotiation History

The union, which has been negotiating a new contract for its members with the district since April 2022, said the strike was necessary because LAUSD’s offers were unsatisfactory.

The union’s demands include a 30 percent pay increase plus a $2/hour “equity” wage adjustment for its members, more full-time hours, pay for mandatory training and certifications required for work, no split shifts, and substitute relief for absent coworkers.

It also requests the district notify and bargain with the union before changing schedules and hours.

On March 18, LAUSD offered union members a five percent wage increase for 2022–23, a six percent wage increase for the following year, and a five percent wage increase for 2024–25.

A day before the strike on March 20, the union agreed to enter negotiations with LAUSD. However, the union’s leader, Max Arias, said in a statement that LAUSD broke their confidentiality by sharing such information with the media before the two sides had a chance to meet.

From The Epoch Times

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