School strike looms

Service workers and teachers unions join forces in plan to shut down LAUSD for three days over labor contracts.

A planned three-day long strike will shut down all LAUSD public schools beginning next Tuesday, less than three weeks before Spring Break.

Barring any unforeseen breakthroughs in negotiations, the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) teacher’s union, which represents 35,000 teachers, will join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99 that includes 30,000 cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, supervision aides and teaching assistants in the strike.

SEIU called the strike over accusations that the district has illegally interfered with its members engaging in union activities. In a rare act of solidarity, UTLA leadership decided to strike as well.

Both unions have been in lengthy negotiations with the district seeking higher pay and improved working conditions. SEIU members have been working without a contract since July 1, 2020

Besides accusing district leaders of illegal antiunion activity, leaders from both unions say the district has been negotiating in bad faith, as well as failing to commit enough of the district’s nearly $5 billion reserve funds to increasing worker pay.

Should the strike take place it would be the largest and longest full disruption of education in the nation’s second-largest school system since the 2019 UTLA strike, which went on for six days. During that strike, schools remained open, but most teachers refused to cross picket lines.

With so few staff members and no food service workers anticipated to be on campus during the strike, district leadership does not believe it would be safe to continue regular instruction.

If this strike does occur, despite our best efforts to avoid it, due to the anticipated lack of both teachers and school staff, it is likely we would have to close schools – without virtual education – until the strike ends,” Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in email to all parents sent on March 13. “We would simply have no way of ensuring a safe and secure environment where teaching can take place.”

Carvalho went on to apologize for the situation and advise parents that they began talking to their employers and child care providers.

The district and the union continue negotiations, the district’s ultimate hope is that the strike will not take place.

“We are committed to continue good faith bargaining with our labor partners around the clock to reach an agreement before a strike occurs,” Carvalho said in a written statement.