LAUSD teachers and staff strike scheduled for Tuesday, schools closed

A three-day strike that would shut down Los Angeles public schools is set to begin Tuesday, union leaders announced Wednesday at a massive downtown rally of the district’s two largest employee groups.

Superintendent of LA Schools. Alberto Carvalho on Wednesday urged union leaders to negotiate “around the clock” to avoid the strike, which he said would further harm more than 420,000 students trying to recover academically and emotionally from the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced them to learn at a distance for more than a year.

Union leaders responded that they are looking out for the long-term interests of students as well as workers by demanding higher wages and better working and learning conditions.

The planned walkout of at least 65,000 workers would represent the largest and longest complete disruption to education in the nation’s second-largest school system since the six-day teachers’ strike in 2019. Even the pandemic campus closures, which have lasted more than one year in Los Angeles, did not lead to a complete cessation of school education.

The Grand Park rally drew thousands of attendees, filling the park so much that massive loudspeakers couldn’t even reach attendees more than a block away, with members of Union Local 99 international service employees wearing purple and members of United Teachers Los Angeles wearing red.

“We have to be prepared to stay strong,” Local 99 executive director Max Arias told The Times. “I want to show the city of Los Angeles that if we have to strike, it’s really to improve the schools, even if the students may miss a few days. Ultimately, we need clean and safe schools for all.

He said the total contract requirements would increase his members’ average salary by $25,000 to $36,000.

“We’ve been at the table for 26 sessions,” said teachers’ union president Cecily Myart-Cruz. “And we’ve been here since May. And there was very little movement. There are a couple of things we agreed on. But we want to talk about all of our ‘Beyond Recovery’ contract proposals, because we know that our working conditions are the learning conditions of our students.

The UTLA proposals call for sustained funding for special programs to help black students, early grades, and efforts to develop affordable housing for low-income families.

The impending walkout would be led by Local 99, which represents about 30,000 workers, including bus drivers, guards, cafeteria and other food service workers, campus security aides, assistants education and support for students with disabilities.

Local 99 would be joined in a sympathy strike by UTLA, which represents 35,000 teachers, counsellors, therapists, nurses and librarians.

The rally came after an early morning press conference by Carvalho, in which he said he and district negotiators were ready to unite to avoid a strike.

“I have 2, 3, 4 chairs around the table,” Carvalho said. “And I am committed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, day and night … to find a solution that will avoid, will avoid, a strike that will avoid keeping the children at home, will prevent the children from going hungry in our community without access to food they go to school.

Fifth-grade teacher Marisol Cabrera arrived in Grand Park draped in red with colleagues from Montara Avenue Elementary School in South Gate. He carried a Carvalho cutout in one hand and an iPad in the other.

The 27-year-old veteran zoomed in on a mandatory school reunion with her handheld device while walking with a three-foot-long sign across her chest that read, “Carvalho doesn’t care about our kids!”

“We’re here in solidarity with our friends at Local 99 to say we want to be in the classroom, we want to teach and we don’t accept the narrative that we’re closing schools,” Cabrera, 50, said.

Also at the rally was special education assistant Amy Rendon, a 32-year-old parent of a toddler who works with children at Evergreen Elementary in Boyle Heights, changing diapers, hand-feeding them, whatever. is necessary. She earns $20 an hour for a six-hour-a-day shift in a position that starts at $19 an hour. Her workload is too heavy, she said, and students are getting too little attention and too little consistency due to turnover.

School board president Jackie Goldberg – who had previously expressed optimism that there would be no strike – seemed Wednesday less certain.

“It’s the first time since I’ve done this that there hasn’t been a back and forth,” Goldberg said. “There was a statement of, ‘This is it. And that’s all.’ These are not negotiations. I am very disappointed.

Carvalho said Local 99 has not responded to the district’s two most recent offers.

A spokesperson for Local 99 said the blame for the stalled talks lies with the district.

“LAUSD had two months to negotiate with SEIU Local 99 members,” Blanca Gallegos said. “They never contacted us. During the mediation process, they made no significant moves. SEIU Local 99 has not walked away from the bargaining table. We are currently at an impasse and are following the legal negotiation process.

Leaders of both unions accused district leaders of negotiating in bad faith on their wide range of proposals and of not committing enough district reserves to contract offers.

In his remarks, Carvalho took aim at the union’s focus on the school system’s projected $4.9 billion ending balance for the current school year. He said union leaders are giving their members ‘false hope’ because most of this funding is already committed for future expenses, earmarked for special purposes or is one-time funding that should not be applied to raises. current salaries.

He added that the district is nevertheless ready to improve its current offer when the union leaders return to the table.

Carvalho said the district is in discussions with community groups about how they can help distribute food on school days and help with childcare for families. The district is also preparing academic materials for students to take home, he said.

Beyond the bargaining table, the school district and the union compete for public opinion.

The teachers’ union enjoyed broad public support for its 2019 strike. Months later, however, local voters rejected a tax hike for schools that was backed by the union and the school district.

There is strong potential support for teachers if negotiations fail, according to a new poll from Loyola Marymount University.

Pollsters Asked: LAUSD teachers asked for a raise. If union negotiations fail to reach an agreement, would you support or oppose the LAUSD teachers’ strike to meet their demands?

Among LA residents, a strike was strongly supported by 39% and somewhat supported by 37%. Only 10% strongly oppose a strike and 14% oppose it somewhat.

Support for a strike was also relatively strong among parents, with 79% of Los Angeles County residents with a child at home saying they were in favor.

Meanwhile, Carvalho had average to positive ratings. Among school district residents: 16% gave it a letter grade of A; 29% a B, 36% a C; 13% a D and 9% an F. Carvalho became superintendent 13 months ago after a long tenure as head of Miami Schools.

The survey conducted from January 4 to February 5 included telephone sessions, online and face-to-face surveys of 2,008 adults living in Los Angeles County. The survey was conducted in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Korean. The LAUSD superintendent rank question was only asked of respondents from the city of Los Angeles. The question about support for the strike was asked across the county.

Historically, strikes are relatively rare in LA Unified and this one would be particularly unusual due to the coordination between the two unions. Moreover, the strike is not about deadlocked negotiations but about Local 99’s allegations that the school district illegally interfered with union-related activities of its members. Neither union has exhausted the typical bargaining process, which includes time set aside for mediation and fact-finding.

Carvalho said he had authorized his legal team to review measures that would delay or prevent the walkout, but he did not specify what those would be.

Goldberg said she believes a deal remains within reach.

“We have the resources to make this the best offer in the country in both SEIU and UTLA, the best offer in the whole country – continuous, not one-time – continuous because we value our employees,” she said.

Local 99 leaders recently declared an impasse in negotiations and are moving forward with the mediation and investigation process. The union, which has yet to settle pay issues dating back to the 2020-21 school year, is demanding a 30% raise for all members, with an additional boost for the lowest-paid workers.

The district is offering a 5% ongoing salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2021, an additional 5% ongoing salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2022, and a 5% salary increase that would take effect July 1, 2023. In addition, employees would receive a one-time “retention bonus” of 4% for the current school year and a one-time bonus of 5% the following year.

The teachers’ union is calling for a 20% increase over two years, starting with 10% for the current school year.

The district’s offer is an ongoing 5% raise plus a one-time 4% bonus for the current year and an additional 5% ongoing salary increase plus a 5% bonus for next year.

A bargaining session with the teachers’ union is scheduled for Friday. Local 99 has not agreed on a date for the next session, Carvalho said. Local 99 said it continues to bargain responsibly.

“We are currently waiting for the State Public Relations Board to set up a panel so that we can begin the investigative process, which is part of the impasse procedure,” Gallegos said.

Leave a Comment