LAUSD strike to conclude Thursday, with employees returning to work on Friday; no contract yet

Michelle Fisher Image
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
LAUSD strike to conclude Thursday; no contract agreement yet
No contract settlement was announced, though talks were again taking place between the district and union, facilitated by Mayor Karen Bass.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District workers will end their three-day strike on Thursday after no significant progress was announced on day two of the walkout.

No contract settlement was announced, though talks were again taking place between the district and union, facilitated by Mayor Karen Bass.

Some 30,000 members of the Service Employees International Union Local 99 walked off the job Tuesday morning, bringing the nation's second-largest school district to a halt.

SEIU members will conclude their walkout Thursday and return to work on Friday, the union said in a statement.

"The strike will conclude Thursday after a boisterous rally at Los Angeles State Historic Park where thousands of workers will issue their strong, unified call for LAUSD to bargain fairly," a statement from the union said.

"SEIU Local 99 school workers plan to return to schools Friday, March 24," the statement added.

LAUSD confirmed schools will be closed Thursday.

The end of the three-day walkout will enable students to return to classes.

Negotiations will continue, with Bass' office saying the mayor "will continue to work privately with all parties to reach an agreement to reopen the schools and guarantee fair treatment of all LAUSD workers."

Parents have been left scrambling to find care and meals for their children, while thousands of school workers walked picket lines and held rallies around the district.

Wednesday marked the second straight day of shuttered schools for about 420,000 students.

Rallies and pickets were held Wednesday in the San Fernando Valley, as workers demanded raises to help them keep up with the high cost of living in Los Angeles.

The SEIU is looking for a total 30% raise over the multiyear contract, while the district's latest offer is 23%.

Union leaders say their average workers - many of them parttime - make about $25,000 a year and work an average of 5.5 hours a day.

An ABC7 analysis of district data indicates those workers average about $16.91 in entry-level positions and $23.85 at the higher-level jobs.

Their last raise was $1/hour in 2019. Since then, the cost of living has shot up about 16% in the Los Angeles area.

Members of the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, are still in active contract talks with the district, but decided to honor the picket lines of their SEIU colleagues.

"I want the school district to understand this: we are not just bodies in the classroom," said Jennifer Torres, a LAUSD employee and parent. "You can't easily replace the experience we have and the support we give the students. Respect us."

LA Unified announced 124,596 meals were distributed to students Tuesday amid the three-day strike and school closures.

LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has been calling for the SEIU to return to the bargaining table.

Carvalho issued a statement Tuesday saying he and the district remain prepared to return to negotiations at any time "so we can provide an equitable contract to our hardworking employees and get our students back in classrooms."

"I understand our employees' frustration that has been brewing, not just for a couple of years, but probably for decades," he said.

"And it is on the basis of recognizing historic inequities that we have put on the table a historic proposal. This offer addresses the needs and concerns from the union, while also remaining fiscally responsible and keeping the district in a financially stable position."

According to the district, the LAUSD last week made an offer that included a 5% wage increase retroactive to July 2021, another 5% increase retroactive to July 2022 and another 5% increase effective July 2023, along with a 4% bonus in 2022-23 and a 5% bonus in 2023-24.

LAUSD strike
Cecily Myart-Cruz, United Teachers Los Angeles president, with Max Arias, executive director of the SEIU Local 99 union, speak to thousands of LLAUSD teachers and SEIU members.
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

On Monday, Carvalho said the district sweetened the offer to an overall 23% salary increase, along with a 3% "cash-in-hand bonus."

The union, however, has been pushing for a 30% pay raise, with an additional boost for the lowest-paid workers.

City News Service contributed to this report.