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Los Angeles school district workers to go on a 3-day strike

LOS ANGELES — Cafeteria workers, bus drivers and other workers for the Los Angeles Unified School District will go on a three-day strike next week, and their union says tens of thousands of teachers have vowed not to cross picket lines.

The strike at the country’s second-largest school district is scheduled from next Tuesday through Thursday, the Service Employees International Union Local 99 said.

The SEIU said in a statement that the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents around 30,000 teachers, has promised not to cross picket lines.

District Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in a letter to parents Monday that if a strike were to occur the district would likely have to close schools, without virtual education, until the strike ends.

The SEIU wants wage increases, more full-time work and more staffing for student services. In addition to cafeteria workers, bus drivers and custodians, its members are also special education assistants.

One the aims of the three-day strike is “to show the district that we are fed-up with their disrespect and not afraid to take strong action to demand respect for our work,” the union said over the weekend.

The Los Angeles teachers union went on a strike in 2019 that lasted seven days. The strike ended with an agreement for pay raises and promises to reduce class size, among other issues.

The school district has over 600,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade at over 1,000 schools, it says on its website.

Carvalho, who was hired in late 2021 and took office in February 2022, called on the service workers union to come back to the negotiating table in a statement Wednesday.

“SEIU is simply refusing to negotiate,” Carvalho said. He said the district had made a “historic offer” to the union designed to address its demands.

Carvalho said in the letter to parents that the district’s offer included “a more than 15% increase in our minimum wage (to more than $20 per hour)” and other measures.

The service workers union says it has been negotiating with the district since April. It says the district over-relies on a low-paid workforce that is part-time.

The union is asking for a 30% raise. The average salary of school workers at LAUSD is $25,000 a year and most work part-time hours, SEIU said in the statement.

“Families have been sacrificing for far too long on poverty wages,” Max Arias, SEIU Local 99’s Executive Director, said.

The announcement of the strike came on the same day teachers and others rallied in the Grand Park area of downtown Los Angeles, NBC Los Angeles reported.

The school district said Tuesday that it had offered wage increases of 5% for the school year that began in 2022, 5% for the one that begins in 2023, and one-time bonuses of 4% and 5% in 2022-2023 and 2023-2024, respectively.

It also said it proposed wage increases that include $20,000 for nurses, $3,500 for workers that include social workers and psychologists, and $2,500 for special education teachers.

SEIU Local 99 says it has 50,000 education workers as members, including more than 30,000 who work at LAUSD schools.

Its members voted in February to authorize a strike.

The Associated Press contributed.

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