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Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Howard Blume

Labor board won't halt LAUSD strike for now, but could still act after a Monday review

LOS ANGELES — A last-ditch legal effort by the Los Angeles school district has failed for now to avert a three-day strike and school closures scheduled for Tuesday, but district officials said Sunday that their case remains under consideration by a state labor board and that a decision could come as soon as Monday.

L.A. Unified had argued that the strike — by Local 99 of Service Employees International Union — is illegal, on the grounds that the union's official justification is not the real reason for the walkout. Local 99 has stated that the purpose of the strike is to protest alleged unfair labor practices by the district; L.A. Unified claims the union walkout is about pressuring the district to improve its salary offer.

The school system had requested an injunction from the California Public Employment Relations Board that would have delayed or halted with strike — and this was denied.

Local 99 declared victory Sunday in the legal joust.

The Sunday decision by regulators "confirms that workers have a right to protest over the threats and harassment waged against them by the school district," Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias said. "They will continue to move forward with plans to strike this week. Their voices will not be silenced."

District officials said the case remains active.

"The PERB Board has directed their Office of General Counsel to expedite the processing of the district's underlying unfair practice charge against SEIU Local 99, which alleged that SEIU and its members are engaging in an unlawful 3-day strike," district officials said Sunday in a statement. "Contrary to SEIU's assertions," the issue has not yet been determined, the statement said.

The teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, is not leading this strike but has strongly encouraged its 30,000 members to take part.

L.A. Unified officials said they have no choice but to "continue to prepare for the unfortunate reality of school closures and remain available to negotiate a resolution to the outstanding issues, which we believe could be resolved...between now and Tuesday."

With the three-day strike imminent, district officials, union members and the families of 420,000 students planned and mobilized Sunday for massive disruption in the nation's second-largest school district.

Important details from the school district emerged Sunday on child-care, student meals and academics.

In the event of a strike, no classes will take place. Except for limited child care at some campuses, schools will be closed to students because officials said they cannot guarantee adequate supervision.

However, the district is encouraging any willing employees to report for duty for their normal work day — although they are unlikely to be carrying out their usual tasks.

Student meals

With 80% of students from low-income families, the school system plays an important role in providing breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner Monday through Friday.

Such meals will continue in a limited way. Families will be able to pick up prepackaged meals from about two dozen locations across the vast school system on Tuesday only, and only from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Each family can receive six meals per student — for breakfast and lunch on each of the three strike days.

The district has experience from the pandemic distributing vast numbers of meals. One difference this time is that the workers who provided the backbone of that aid — including the cafeteria and central kitchen workers — will be on strike. Local 99 also represents bus drivers, teacher aides, security aides and custodians.

L.A. Unified is welcoming volunteer help in the meal distribution.

"We plan to deploy 15 to 20 volunteers per site to work alongside L.A. Unified teams, City of L.A. staff and other municipalities. " according to information about volunteering provided online. "Volunteers will engage in physical work and will be standing for the duration of the event. We will contact you with logistical information once we confirm them to activate."

"Your commitment to this effort is critical," the advisory states. "Please do not sign up for this opportunity if you are not able to volunteer the whole time."

Among the locations with be the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Recreation Center, the Glassell Park Recreation Center Complex, the Boys & Girls Club Mar Vista Gardens Branch, Salt Lake Park in Huntington Park and the Wilmington Recreation Center.

Child care

Nonprofits, athletic leagues, community groups and other government agencies have worked to expand their hours and offerings during the three-day strike.

Initially, L.A. Unified appeared to be sidelined from a direct role — other than appealing for help and providing support that would included packaged food.

But dozens of campuses — among 1,000 in the school system — will offer supervision between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. This supervision will be led by Beyond the Bell staff, which typically provides activities and homework supervision from the end of the school day until 6 p.m. A district map indicates sites that will be accepting students.

That same map identifies the location of 18 L.A. County Parks and Recreation sites that will offer a drop-in program with balls and equipment for checkout and an open gym from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The county sites close 30 minutes earlier than the school district sites. Where available, the county sites will allow access to computer labs to complete school assignments.

Meals will be provided at both the district and county sites.

First come, first served

There's an important caveat to the day-care offerings.

This supervision is available first come, first served. Families will be turned away — or at least directed to try somewhere else — once capacity is reached. Officials have not stated what the capacity will be.And getting in on the first day does not reserve a space for the second day or third day.

The map of locations is color coded. The county sites are green and the district blue. When a site is full, the pin is supposed to turn red, but that will depend on how quickly staff on location can submit a report to update the map. Different programs have different parameters.

Public libraries

The county library welcomes students.

"The library is here to provide computers, books and materials access, events, and academic support to support learning during the closure," said marketing director Jessica C. Lee.

But again, there are important caveats.

"We recommend parents and caretakers use thoughtful discretion when determining whether or not their child or teen can work at the library without parental supervision," Lee said. "Library staff is not responsible for the supervision of children left attended at the library by their parents."

Some branches don't open until 10 a.m. or noon. Others stay open later than school district-operated locations.


For students who want to keep busy with schoolwork — especially if they have internet access — there's almost an overload of resources being posted online and activity packets available for families to take home.

All the work is optional and will not count toward a student's grade.

School board President Jackie Goldberg said she is optimistic that teachers will prepare specific, course-related, grade-level work for students. Other district officials appear less certain, hence the lengthy list of online resources and activities.

One event scheduled for next week, the SAT college-entrance exam, has been rescheduled to the first week after spring break.

Local 99 has no negotiations scheduled with the school district prior to the strike, but negotiators for the teachers union — which also is bargaining a contract — met with the district team on Friday and Saturday until 8 p.m., according to L.A. Unified.

"Both teams continue to work hard at reaching a fair agreement," the school system said Sunday in a statement.

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