LAUSD strike appears likely next week as district prepares to support parents

Anabel Munoz Image
Saturday, March 18, 2023
3-day LAUSD strike appears likely next week
United Teachers Los Angeles is still in talks with the district but a separate union for bus and cafeteria workers is expected to strike next week.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Negotiations involving one Los Angeles Unified School District union resumed on Friday, but a three-day strike next week at the moment still appears likely.

United Teachers Los Angeles was at the bargaining table Friday with district officials.

But SEIU Local 99, which is leading the walkout efforts, has not resumed negotiations after declaring talks at an impasse.

SEIU is planning the three-day strike starting Tuesday - and UTLA says its teachers will honor the SEIU picket lines regardless of the outcome of their own talks.

The two unions together represent more than 60,000 district employees.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has been calling on SEIU to return to the table.

"We have more resources to put on the table," Carvalho told Eyewitness News on Thursday. "I believe if we have a chance, an opportunity to have a dialogue and actually put those resources on the table, we will find a solution that dignifies our workforce, dramatically increases their salary, without creating conditions that should be unacceptable to anyone in this community as far as our kids are concerned."

Superintendent calls for LAUSD to return to bargaining table

With a strike expected next week, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho says the district has more resources to offer if the union returns to the bargaining table.

SEIU Local 99 represents bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other positions. Their members have continued working since their last contract expired nearly two years ago. Union officials say their members make an average salary of $25,000 and many of them are part-time.

SEIU is pushing for a 30% increase over the multiyear contract, as well as more hours for their members.

"Having tried multiple jobs, being on the verge of homelessness, making the wages they make here, it's hard to be able to come and provide services to students here," said Conrado Guerrero, president of SEIU Local 99.

Parents and students caught in middle as LAUSD strike looms

Parents have many questions and concerns as LAUSD schools are expected to be closed for three days during a strike next week.

The union also says that staffing shortages have led to problems in schools, including substandard cleaning of campuses, less safety supervision on playgrounds and limited after-school enrichment programs.

The district says its latest offer to SEIU totals a 15% wage increase: That includes two 5% retroactive raises for 2021 and 2022 plus another 5% increase effective July 2023. In addition the district is offering a 4% bonus for 2022-23 and a 5% bonus in 2023-24.

In preparation for the strike, the district has set up a website with resources for parents, including information about where students can pick up meals.

Working parents are concerned about finding childcare for their children during the strike. But some told Eyewitness News they support the workers.

"I think it's important we support staff, we support teachers," said parent Heidi Lemus. "I think they deserve a fair wage and fair beneifts. So I'm all for it. I think we should all be on that picket line and support the staff and teachers."