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Los Angeles schools closed as staff launched three-day strike

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tens of thousands of workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District quit their jobs Tuesday, citing stalled contract negotiations. three days strike It closed the second largest school system in the country.

A demonstration by Local 99 members of the Service Employees International Union, representing approximately 30,000 teacher aides, special education assistants, bus drivers, janitor, cafeteria workers and other support staff, began in the busyard.

Workers joined picket lines in the pre-dawn rain, demanding better wages and more jobs. Some held signs that read, “We keep our school safe, please respect us!” The school district has more than 500,000 of her students from Los Angeles as well as all or part of unincorporated areas of 25 other cities and counties. Nearly three quarters are Latino.

Parent Daniel Peters rallied with union members outside Hancock Park Elementary School with 10-year-old Jack and 7-year-old Ella.

“They are undervalued, underpaid, and have the most important job in the world,” she said of the support staff. “We care about them. This is what we can do.” It’s the bare minimum.”

Leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles, a union representing 35,000 educators, counselors and other staff, pledged solidarity with the strikers.

UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said at a press conference, “These are the co-workers who are the lowest-paid workers at our school and we consistently see them neglected and abused by this school district. I can’t just sit back and watch,” he said.

Myart-Cruz was joined by Democrat and US Senate candidate Adam Schiff, who said the strikers were earning “poverty wages”.

“People who have the most important responsibilities in our school don’t have to live in poverty,” Schiff said.

Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho accused the union of refusing to negotiate and said it was ready to meet at any time of the day or night. He said on Monday that a “great opportunity” to move forward had been lost.

“I think this strike could have been avoided. But it cannot be avoided unless individuals actually talk about it,” he said.

Local 99 said Monday night it was in discussions with state labor regulators about allegations that the district was involved in illegal activities that impeded workers’ rights to engage in legally protected union-related activities. rice field.

“We would like to clarify that we are not negotiating with LAUSD,” the union said in a statement. “We continue to work through the impasse process with the country.”

These negotiations do not avoid strikes, the statement said.

During the strike, about 150 of the district’s more than 1,000 schools will remain open under adult supervision, but without guidance to give students somewhere to go. Dozens of libraries and parks, as well as ‘grab-and-go’ spots for students to grab lunch, will also be open to children, easing the burden on parents who are currently scrambling to find guardians. is.

“Schools are more than just a place of education. They are a safety net for hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles families,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement Monday. We will make sure we do everything we can to provide resources.”

Workers, meanwhile, said the only option left was to strike.

Marley Ostrow, an aide who supports the strike, said he couldn’t wait for a raise. The 67-year-old now makes about $16, almost as much as she was hired at $11.75 an hour 20 years ago. That alone wasn’t enough to keep up with inflation and rising house prices, she said, during which time her duties expanded from her two classrooms to her five.

Ostrow attributes low wages in the district to the pile of job openings in recent years.

“No one is applying because they can make more money starting with Burger King,” she said.

School district support staff earn an average of about $25,000 a year, according to the union, and while LA County struggles with inflation and high housing costs, low wages or limited working hours keep many out of poverty. I live inside The union is asking for a 30% increase in wages.The teacher says she wants a 20% pay increase in two years.

According to Carvalho, the district has offered wage increases of more than 20% and bonuses of 3% in total over several years. Additionally, the deal includes a “significant increase in medical benefits,” the superintendent told Fox 11 on Monday.

Strikes are widely supported by union members.

The SEIU members have been working without a contract since June 2020, but the teacher’s contract expired in June 2022. The union decided last week to stop accepting contract extensions.

Teachers went on strike for six days in 2019 over wage and contract issues, but schools remained open.


Associated Press writers John Antuchuk of Los Angeles and Colin Binkley of Washington contributed to this report.

https://www.ksby.com/news/california-news/los-angeles-schools-shut-down-as-staff-begin-3-day-strike Los Angeles schools closed as staff launched three-day strike

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