A three-day walkout that began Tuesday by some 30,000 workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District left some 565,000 students out of class.
The LAUSD workers—including teachers’ aides, special education assistants, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and other support staff—were joined by teachers in their strike, which shut down the nation’s second largest school system after contract talks stalled.
Workers walked the picket line despite a steady rainfall, demanding better wages and increased staffing.
During the strike, about 150 of the district’s more than 1,000 schools are expected to remain open with adult supervision but no instruction.
The effort is to lessen as much as possible the disruption of meals, counseling and social services on students, some three-quarters of whom are Latino.
Dozens of libraries and parks, plus some “grab and go” spots for students to get lunches were also opened to lessen the strain on parents now scrambling to find care.
The three-day walkout follows a six-day strike in 2019, as well as disrupted classroom instruction due to the Covid pandemic during 2020 and 2021.
Even so, parents were seen rallying with the union members outside some of the schools.
“They are under-appreciated, they are underpaid, and they have the most important job in the world,” said mother of three elementary school students Danielle Peters of support staff. “We care about them, and this is the least we can do.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D), who is running for Senate in California in 2024, also joined the strikers, claiming they were earning “poverty wages.”
“People with some of the most important responsibilities in our schools should not have to live in poverty,” Schiff said.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, which said 96% of its membership had authorized the strike, is demanding a 30% salary increase plus another $2 per hour for the lowest-paid workers.
SEIU members have been working without a contract since June 2020, while the contract for teachers expired in June 2022. The unions decided last week to stop accepting extensions to their contracts.
Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho, meanwhile, has accused the SEIU of refusing to negotiate. He said that he was prepared to meet at any time day or night.