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Local 1000 SEIU Sign. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

LAUSD School Workers Strike Ends With No Deal

‘If they are depriving our kids of an education, they don’t deserve respect’

By Evan Symon, March 23, 2023 5:43 pm

The Los Angeles school workers strike ended on Thursday after three full days of striking, with no deal in place, despite intervention by Mayor Karen Bass.

The strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the nation with around 565,000 Kindergarten through 12th grade students, comes after nearly a year of continued negotiations with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). New contracts with most non-teacher employees within the LAUSD, such as cafeteria workers, special education assistants, janitors, and bus drivers, have not been found despite the district continuing to sweeten the deal each time.

While there are many issues surrounding the strike, staff shortages and a low income in the face of inflation are the two major sticking points. The SEIU demanded at least a 30% increase in wages, as well as a $2 per hour equity wage, because of workers in the SEIU making an average of $25,000 a year. The union also wants increased hours and health care benefits for part-time workers, better cleanliness in schools, and more hiring to make up for staff shortages.

Earlier this month, the union rejected the LAUSD’s offer of a 5% wage increase retroactive to July 2021, another 5% increase retroactive to  July 2022, and a 5% increase starting this July, as well as more bonuses. With last minute talks going nowhere on Monday, the SEIU decided on a three-day strike starting on Tuesday.

While thousands of employees showed up to strike, poor weather for most of the strike kept a larger than expected media presence away. However, schools were unable to function  without service workers, resulting in LAUSD students having three straight days off. Many teachers joined the strike in sympathy. Parents groups and educational LA city locations including the Zoo and the La Brea Tar Pits created study groups so students wouldn’t fall behind, and those places offering free admission for students. And despite the strike, it largely worked.

“We heard it from groups all over the city,” Shirelle Barnes, a class room mom leader who organized several Skype-based study sessions, told the Globe on Thursday. “Work was kept up with thanks to parents and guardians, and a lot of us had field trips today too. Some of us felt for the strikers, but you lose an awful lot of goodwill when what you are doing starts affecting our kids negatively. A bunch of students said they wanted to leave messes for these workers to clean up in retaliation, and we have had to tell them not to do that. They’re angry at them too.”

Mayor Bass intervenes

Despite striking employees going back to work tomorrow, negotiations are largely halted. On Wednesday, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said that the SEIU was no longer negotiating after receiving an offer of a cumulative 23% raise, as well as bonuses, more full-time positions, and better health care options. With the union refusing, Mayor Bass interceded and brought the union back to the negotiating table on Wednesday, with Bass and the two sides still attempting to hammer out a deal by Friday.

“We are grateful that the Mayor has stepped in to provide leadership in an effort to find a path out of our current impasse,” said SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias,” on Wednesday. “Education workers have always been eager to negotiate as long as we are treated with respect and bargained with fairly, and with the Mayor’s leadership we believe that is possible.”

Despite negotiations continuing on Thursday, parents of students in the LA school system stressed that the real people being hurt are the kids.

“Yeah, the school district can’t spare a lot of money and a lot of those workers are not making nearly enough. But look at what this strike is doing,” added parent Steven Lucas, who helps lead another organized study group session, to the Globe on Thursday. “They’ve been throwing around that word ‘respect’ a lot, but if they are depriving our kids of an education, they don’t deserve respect. They don’t deserve to be treated to respect.”

“And our kids are torn on this. Some are saying they should fight for what they deserve, and others have said quite the opposite in that they want California to be a right to work state. Seriously, it surprised me when they mentioned that too. Instead of playing games or something, our kids instead looked into the issue and read about organized labor in the US. This plus the teachers strike in 2019 have either made them very pro-union or has made them see large unions as too powerful and corrupt.”

“They can come to an agreement tomorrow, but the damage has already been done so to speak.”

Negotiations between the LAUSD and the SEIU are expected to continue after the strike ends on Thursday.

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Evan Symon
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5 thoughts on “LAUSD School Workers Strike Ends With No Deal

  1. If I “demanded” a 30% pay increase, my employer would politely tell me to have a nice day, as I was escorted off the property.

  2. Marxist Democrat Mayor Bass will probably do all she can to help her SEIU cronies get whatever demands they ask for since they helped install her? LAUSD is a failed public school district that parents should avoid for their kids if at all possible?

    1. What really ticks me off is that local (‘conservative’) radio news blurbs are repeatedly portraying L.A. Mayor Karen Bass as a helper/peacemaker type, not the biased meddler on the side of the unions that she actually is.

      1. By the time Mayor Karen Bass is done destroying LA, she’ll make former Eric Garcetti good in comparison.

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