As of Tuesday, March 21, 2023, schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District have been closed due to a strike action by as many as 30,000 education support staff and the Los Angeles teachers’ union. The strike is expected to have a significant impact on education, dining, counseling, and other social services for over 565,000 students and their parents.
This is not the first time the district has faced disruptions to its learning and teaching processes. In 2019, a six-day teacher strike caused significant disruptions, and the coronavirus pandemic led to classroom teaching being closed for over a year in 2020 and 2021.
The International Service Employees Union at Local 99, which represents bus drivers, bouncers, cafeteria workers, and class assistants, began the strike on Tuesday morning after last-minute negotiations broke down the previous day.
The union, with 96% of its members approving the strike, is demanding a 30% pay increase and an additional $2 per hour for the lowest-paid workers, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In support of the strike, the 35,000-member United Teachers Los Angeles has also left work. The union is seeking to bring education workers out of poverty, reduce class sizes, and ensure that every school is fully staffed.
Los Angeles Superintendent of Education Alberto Carvalho acknowledged that workers had been underpaid for years and stated that the district was offering a 23% increase plus a 3% bonus. He also said that there were still additional resources to be prepared and that he understood the frustration of the workers. Carvalho offered to stay on standby around the clock to reach an agreement to end the strike early.
Despite the strike, school districts are attempting to provide food service to students who may be hungry. Carvalho said that the district would ask parents to identify alternatives if some places to eat are overwhelmed.