Officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District announced Tuesday evening that schools would remain closed Wednesday amid a strike for better pay and working conditions by tens of thousands of district workers who began picketing early Monday morning.
The strike, which had been in the works for several weeks, includes the support of as many as 60,000 members of the Local 99 of Service Employees International Union and United Teachers Los Angeles.
Demonstrators picketed in the morning rain at LAUSD’s Van Nuys bus yard on Tuesday.
The picketers were back in force at a Gardena bus lot on Wednesday, though there were some who tried to cross the picket line.
“These are new drivers and they told them that they’re not protected, that if they don’t cross the line, that they would be terminated,” a picketer named Elroy told KTLA, who added that the union “clearly stated” that they would protect these workers.
Other district workers and supporters demonstrated outside public schools, and thousands of people attended a large rally at the district’s headquarters in Westlake.
At the center of the labor dispute is SEIU’s demand that its workers, many of whom are the lowest paid in the district, making $25,000 a year on average, get paid more. The union is asking for a 30% raise.
While UTLA is involved in a separate wage dispute, demanding that teachers get a 20% raise, union leaders said they would honor Local 99’s work stoppage and stand with their fellow school district employees.
LAUSD Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said the district has offered a “historic proposal” of wage increases totaling more than 20% over a multiyear period, along with a 3% bonus.
“We remain ready to return to negotiations with SEUI Local 99 so we can provide an equitable contract to our hardworking employees and get our students back in classrooms,” Carvalho tweeted Tuesday. “This offer addresses the needs and concerns from the union, while also remaining fiscally responsible and keeping the District in a financially stable position.”
The second-largest school district in the nation, LAUSD’s closure means an estimated half million students have been impacted, with many families scrambling to find childcare for their kids.
LAUSD distributed more than 125,000 Grab & Go meals Monday and hosted more than 1,300 students at supervised sites. A full list of resources available throughout the LAUSD strike can be found here.
As of the second day of the strike, both sides stand at an impasse with no new talks scheduled.