LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho interacts with students in a classroom at Marlton School (2022). Teachers from LAUSD are set to begin a three-day strike next week. Photo courtesy Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE
March 16 (UPI) -- School workers in Los Angeles plan to strike for three days next week, after nearly a year of contract negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District have gone nowhere.
SEIU Local 99, which represents 30,000 cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, and special education assistants, said Wednesday that it would hold a three-day strike from March 21 through March 23. The union said that it would "protest the school district's unfair practices."
The workers have been in negotiations for almost a year for higher wages, increased staffing for student services and more full-time work. Last month, 96% of the union members voted to authorize a strike.
"As LAUSD parents and workers, SEIU Local 99 members know a strike will be a sacrifice, but the school district has pushed workers to take this action," Max Arias, SEIU Local 99's executive director, said in a statement. "Families have been sacrificing for far too long on poverty wages. Students have been sacrificing for too long in school environments that are not clean, safe, or supportive for all.
The average salary for LAUSD school workers is just $25,000. The district has offered the union a 5% wage increase and 4% one-time bonus for the current school year, as well as a 5% wage increase and a 5% one-time bonus for 2023-2024.
If the union strikes, "it is virtually impossible to keep schools open," district Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said during a news conference Wednesday morning, according to CNN. The district serves more than 600,000 students at more than 1,000 schools, its website says.
Carvalho also apologized to families and students and said they are "doing everything possible to avoid a strike."
The next negotiation session is Friday, the district said.