LA schools strike enters day two as staff demands better pay
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() — Thousands of Los Angeles service workers, backed by teachers, will hit the picket lines Wednesday for day two of a three-day strike, shutting down instruction for students in the nation’s second-largest school district.
SEIU Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents about 30,000 teachers’ aides, special education assistants, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and other support staff, walked out amid stalled contract talks.
“We demand respect, for us, respect starts with making a livable wage,” a Los Angeles union worker told .
“Our schools are understaffed; we just need more people,” another union worker said.
Demonstrators, including more than 30,000 teachers standing in solidarity, joined rain-soaked picket lines Tuesday demanding better wages and increased staffing.
“We understand that the average salary for the SEIU employee is about 24, 25 thousand a year, that is quite a bit lower than the poverty line,” a Los Angeles union worker said.
The three-day strike comes after more than a year of negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District. SEIU members have been working without a contract since June 2020, while the contract for teachers expired in June 2022. The unions decided last week to stop accepting extensions to their contracts.
The union is asking for a 30% raise and more hours for part-time workers. Teachers want a 20% pay hike over two years.
The district has offered a cumulative 23% raise, starting with 2% retroactive as of the 2020-21 school year and ending with 5% in 2024-25. The package would also include a one-time 3% bonus for those who have been on the job for more than a year, along with more full-time positions and an expansion of health care benefits.
Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, called the offer “historic.”
“We remain ready to return to negotiations with SEIU Local 99 so we can provide an equitable contract to our hardworking employees and get our students back in the classrooms,” Carvalho said in a statement.
The union announced that the strike would continue through Thursday, March 23.
Teachers waged a six-day strike in 2019 over pay and contract issues but schools remained open.