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Tipsheet

Why Los Angeles Schools Are Shut Down Today

Los Angeles Unified School District, LAUSD teacher Sarah Phillips stands under heavy rain outside the closed doors of the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles Tuesday, March 21, 2023. Tens of thousands of workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District walked off the job Tuesday over stalled contract talks, and they were joined by teachers in a three-day strike that shut down the nation’s second-largest school system. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Over 400,000 students are without teachers and support staff, so schools in the Los Angeles area effectively shut down for the next three days. The teachers’ unions decided to join the local service employees’ union strike in solidarity, as those workers are demanding higher. They want a 30 percent increase in their hourly rate, with an additional $2/hour raise for their lowest-paid workers. To be clear, it’s not the teachers who are demanding higher wages—it’s the bus drivers, gardeners, and cafeteria workers (via NYT): 

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Tens of thousands of Los Angeles school employees will begin a three-day strike starting on Tuesday,   forcing hundreds of campuses to close and canceling classes for 422,000 students.

The union that represents 30,000 support workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District is seeking a 30 percent pay increase, saying that many employees make little more than the minimum wage and struggle to afford the cost of living in Southern California.

The Los Angeles teachers’ union has asked its 35,000 members to walk out in solidarity and to avoid crossing the support workers’ picket lines. 

“We must formally announce that all schools across LAUSD will be closed to students tomorrow,” Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of the district, said on Twitter on Monday night. 

[…] 

The strike has forced families to scramble and has rekindled frustrations that many parents felt over the lengthy school closures prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some parents are able to care for their children by working remotely, but many have jobs that require their presence at a workplace outside the home. 

[…] 

Contract negotiations between Local 99 and Los Angeles Unified began in April 2022, and Local 99 declared in December that the talks were at an impasse, according to the union. Its members voted overwhelmingly in February to authorize a strike. 

Its members “know a strike will be a sacrifice, but the school district has pushed workers to take this action,” Max Arias, the executive director of Local 99, said in a statement. 

The union is seeking a 30 percent overall raise; an additional $2-an-hour increase for the lowest-paid workers; and other increases in compensation. Local 99 said its workers made an average salary of $25,000 a year. The district has said that the figure includes part-time as well as full-time employees. 

A counterproposal from the district on Friday included a 20 percent increase in pay spread over several years and a onetime 5 percent bonus. Some payments would be retroactive.

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I may be getting soft, but these people probably have a better argument for pay raises than teachers, though educators are dealing with more disciplinary antics from their pupils. In Virginia, a six-year-old shot his teacher. So, on that front, I’m open to merit-based pay, but this is a profession, like writing and politics, where you won’t receive Goldman Sachs-like salaries. For these workers, that expectation is sadly lower, despite their key functions regarding cleaning these facilities, feeding the students, and getting them to and from school. Families in the area must tweak some of their plans this week.

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