LA school strike is over. What happens next for students, workers?
Classes are scheduled to resume Friday in the Los Angeles Unified School District after a contentious three-day strike and ongoing labor talks between workers, teachers, district and city officials.
More than 400,000 students in the nation’s second-largest school district will return to school after the impasse saw more than 60,000 workers hit the picket lines demanding better pay and benefits.
“We are excited to welcome everyone back at school. Thank you for your patience, understanding and collaboration as we navigated through this week,” school officials said.
Why were LA school workers on strike?
The short strike came after more than a year of negotiations with no sign of a deal. The stoppage was led by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, which represents about 30,000 school employees including bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria employees, campus security, teaching assistants and aides.
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The union wants the district to tap into its billions in reserves to provide a 30% raise and a $2-an-hour equity wage increase. The union said the average salary of its members in the district is about $25,000 per year. That salary would currently qualify as “extremely low income” in Los Angeles County for a single-person household, according to federal guidelines.
Many of the striking workers are part-time employees seeking full-time jobs.
Will Los Angeles school workers go on strike again?
It’s not known. The union and the district are negotiating along with Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and her staff now participating in the discussions, Blanca Gallegos, a spokeswoman for Local 99, said.
“We are hopeful that with Mayor Bass’ leadership, we can reach an agreement,” Gallegos told USA TODAY Thursday.
For her part, Bass said in a statement Tuesday, “I will make sure the wellbeing of L.A. students always comes first as I continue to work with all parties to reach an agreement to reopen the schools and guarantee fair treatment of all LAUSD workers.”
The district’s 35,000 teachers joined their striking school district colleagues in solidarity. The United Teachers Los Angeles, a teachers’ union representing most of the educators, is in separate contract negotiations with the district.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who has been on the job for a little more than a year, had hoped to cut the three-day disruption short, to no avail.
Carvalho said that while workers have faced possibly decades of substandard compensation, the union had been unwilling to negotiate. He said he hopes there won’t be another shutdown as some workers say there could be another stoppage.
Carvalho said the district made a generous and “historic proposal,” even if it’s not as much as what the union wants. The school district, which has a $14.8 billion operating budget, has put a 23% recurring raise and a 3% cash bonus on the table “in recognition of the contributions of our support personnel.”
The union believes the district is “disrespecting and devaluing” their work, Gallegos said.
“If the superintendent comes with the demands our workers are urging, then we will move forward,” Gallegos said during a rally Wednesday.
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How often do union workers go on strike?
Last year, more than 120,000 U.S. workers participated in major strikes over the prior year, a significant increase according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by the Economic Policy Institute. Still, it’s a considerable decline from pre-pandemic levels in 2018 and 2019, the institute said.
This was the second strike in the Los Angeles school district in four years. In 2019, teachers went on strike for six days before reaching what then-Mayor Eric Garcetti, who participated in the negotiations, described as a “historic” agreement.
Los Angeles teachers’ strike:Here’s what you need to know
The agreement included a 6% raise for teachers, smaller class sizes and more nurses and counselors at schools.
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