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Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Howard Blume

Q&A: Strike set at LA schools: What parents and students need to know

LOS ANGELES — A three-day walkout planned by Los Angeles Unified School District teachers and school staff is looming and set for next week.

The anticipated walkout would be the longest full disruption of education in the nation’s second-largest school system since the six-day teachers’ strike of 2019 and upend a school system trying to recover from the pandemic.

The strike would shut down schools attended by more than 420,000 students.

Here is what you need to know.

When would the walkout occur?

It would start Tuesday and extend through Thursday of next week.

Who would participate?

The walkout would include as many as 65,000 workers.

The walkout would be led by Local 99 of SEIU. Local 99 represents about 30,000 workers including bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria and other food service workers, campus security aides, teaching assistants and aides for students with disabilities.

Local 99 would be joined in a solidarity strike by UTLA, which represents 35,000 teachers, counselors, therapists, nurses and librarians.

What are the issues?

Leaders of Local 99 recently declared an impasse in bargaining and are moving through the mediation and fact-finding process. The union, which has yet to settle wage issues dating to the 2020-21 school year, is seeking a 30% increase for all members, with an additional boost for the lowest-wage workers.

The district is offering a 5% ongoing wage increase retroactive to July 1, 2021, an additional 5% ongoing wage increase retroactive to July 1, 2022, and a 5% wage increase that would take effect on July 1, 2023. In addition, employees would receive a one-time 4% “retention bonus” for the current school year and a one-time 5% bonus the following year.

The teachers union is seeking a 20% raise over two years, starting with 10% for the current school year.

Local 99 leaders said their strike would be in protest of alleged illegal actions by L.A. Unified during the negotiation process. Such actions, called an “unfair labor practice” strike by the National Labor Relations Board, typically last for a fixed duration and can be staged without going through the steps of bargaining that usually precede an open-ended strike, according to the unions.

L.A. Unified officials have denied wrongdoing.

What is LAUSD saying?

Los Angeles schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he and district negotiators are prepared to meet around the clock to avert the strike.

He said a strike would further harm more than 420,000 students trying to recover academically and emotionally from the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced them into remote learning for more than year.

Officials said there is still time to avert a strike, but some were growing pessimistic.

School board President Jackie Goldberg — who earlier expressed optimism there would not be a strike — seemed less certain Wednesday.

“It’s the first time since I’ve been doing this there has been no back-and-forth,” said Goldberg. “There was a statement of: ‘This is it. And that’s it.’ That’s not negotiations. Makes me very disappointed.”

How would it affect students?

Schools would be closed during a strike.

Carvalho said in an email to families. “We would simply have no way of ensuring a safe and secure environment where teaching can take place. We will give you as much advance notice as possible, but we encourage you to begin discussions with your employer, child care providers and others now.”

He added that the district is in discussions with community groups over how they can help in distributing food on school days and assisting with child care for families. The district also is preparing academic materials for students to take home, he said.

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