Members of SEIU Local 99, also known as Education Workers United, after over a year of negotiations voted to approve a strike for Tuesday, March 21 through Thursday, March 23. It began on Tuesday, with barely any notice to parents or students.
According to their website, the union includes 50,000 education workers in K-12 schools, early education centers and homes, and community colleges in Southern California, including 30,000 cafeteria workers, special education assistants, custodians, bus drivers, and other school support staff are demanding equitable wage increases, more full-time work, respectful treatment, and increased staffing levels for better student services.
United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents 35,000 local educators, is supporting the strike and said that they will not cross picket lines imposed by workers. The union previously fought a return to in-person learning a year after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and even instructed members not to post pictures from Spring Break vacations. The union president Cecily Myart-Cruz said at the time that white, wealthy parents were "driving the push behind a rushed return."
District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said during a press conference that the strike will make it "virtually impossible to keep schools open" and that the union is "simply refusing to negotiate" despite a "historic offer on the table."
According to Fox News, Max Arias, the executive director of SEIU Local 99 said workers have been living on "poverty wages" and placed the blame for the strike on the school district. "Students have been sacrificing for too long in school environments that are not clean, safe or supportive for all. Too many workers have been subjected to harassment simply for demanding change. Enough is Enough!"
The outlet reported that the average salary of workers at LAUSD is $25,000 a year, often working part-time hours.
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