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LAUSD schools likely to shut down during strike

Blythe Elementary School is one of the many LAUSD schools that could shut down. Courtesy of: Creative Commons

March 15, 2023

By Fatima Durrani

Los Angeles Unified School District schools could shut down during the three-day strike by unions representing 65,000 workers. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho sent out an email on Monday to parents saying the nation’s second-largest school district would likely be forced to shut down for days.

“If this strike does occur, despite our best efforts to avoid it, due to the anticipated lack of both teachers and school staff, it is likely we would have to close schools without virtual education,” Carvalho wrote in an email.

Members of the Local 99 of Service Employees International, made up of workers including drivers, campus security, teaching assistants and custodians, are asking the district to use their $4.9 billion in reserves to pay for a 30% raise and invest in their schools.

The strike dates will be announced on Wednesday, March 15 at a rally at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles. The walkout will be led by SEIU Local 99, which is made up of about 30,000 workers.

“We are making every effort to provide students with resources for learning, social emotional well-being and nourishment in the event of a strike,” Carvalho said.

United Teachers Los Angeles comprises teachers, therapists, nurses, counselors and librarians. The teachers union also asks the district to pay for a $2 per hour equity wage increase.

“Workers are fed-up with living poverty wages – and having their jobs threatened for demanding equitable pay! Workers are fed-up with the short staffing at LAUSD – and being harassed for speaking up,” said Max Arias, Local 99 Executive Director.

A week ago, over 30,000 LAUSD workers voted 96% in favor of authorizing strike action.

“LAUSD is hiring for many classified positions so that we can be replaced! Go to lausdjobs Instagram page and see for yourself. We need to take a stand and now! We gotta bring the heat now! Let’s stop talking and be about it!” A LAUSD worker posted on the SEIU Local Facebook page.

Carvalho wrote in a letter to parents that the school district has offered more than a 15% raise and a retention bonus.

Unions have pointed out the district’s billion-dollar reserves, recent inflation and the high cost of living in Southern California.

“I’ve been threatened with losing my job, simply for trying to improve working conditions of our schools,” said Elizabeth Thomas-Parker, vice president of SEIU Local 99. “Working at LAUSD has gotten so hard that after more than 20 years, I am considering leaving my job with this school district.”

Workers of the LAUSD have been vocally expressing their frustration of not getting the minimum wages they deserve. The LAUSD has denied mistreating them.

Back in 2019, a six-day strike took place in the LAUSD as thousands of teachers walked out as a result of failed negotiations. However, the district schools remained open during the strike.