LA Teacher’s unions are preparing for a three day strike next week which would shut down schools for hundreds of thousands of students. The strike is being led by a union representing school support workers who are demanding a significant pay increase.
“We have to be ready to stand strong,” Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias told The Times. “I want to show the city of L.A. that if we do have to go to strike, it’s really to improve the schools, even though the students might be missing a few days. At the end of the day, we need to have clean, safe schools for all.”
He said the contract demands in total would increase his members’ average salary from $25,000 to $36,000…
The looming walkout would be led by Local 99, which represents about 30,000 workers including bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria and other food service workers, campus security aides, teaching assistants and aides for students with disabilities.
Local 99 would be joined in a solidarity strike by UTLA, which represents 35,000 teachers, counselors, therapists, nurses and librarians.
A $25,000 salary is not enough to live on in Los Angeles but most of these jobs are part time which is why the salaries are so low. According to the district superintendent, the district has made a “historic offer.”
If the union strikes, “it is virtually impossible to keep schools open,” district Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said during a news conference Wednesday morning. The district serves more than 600,000 students at more than 1,000 schools, its website says…
Carvalho…said the union is “simply refusing to negotiate” despite a “historic offer on the table that was created in direct response to SEIU’s demands.”
“With both time and resources to be allocated in reaching an agreement, we are calling on them to come to the table for staff and students, right now,” the superintendent said in a statement shortly before the strike was announced. “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.”
This local news story spells out the district’s offer. It sounds like they’re being offered a 20%+ raise retroactively but are holding out for 30 percent.
The district says its latest offer to the union was: a 5% wage increase retroactive to July 2021, another 5% increase retroactive to July 2022 and another 5% increase effective July 2023, along with a 4% bonus in 2022-23 and a 5% bonus in 2023-24.
But the SEIU is looking for a combined total 30% increase in wages over the course of the next multiyear contract.
The unions held a rally in LA on Thursday and a pretty large crowd attended.
2 in 3 UTLA educators can’t afford to live where they teach. That's why I joined leaders from @CFTunion, @UTLAnow and other unions in support of @SEIULocal99 in Los Angeles’ Grand Park today. pic.twitter.com/HMeSwouRgO
— Randi Weingarten 🇺🇦🇺🇸💪🏿👩🎓 (@rweingarten) March 16, 2023
So it looks like this is probably going to happen and schools will be shut down for most of next week. That’s obviously a problem for tens of thousands of parents who can’t leave young children home alone. It seems to me teachers have had enough time out of the classroom over the past two years and students have already lost out on enough of their education but as usual the unions don’t see it that way.