OAN Geraldyn Berry
UPDATED 2:00 PM – Tuesday, March 21, 2023
A three-day strike by a Los Angeles union representing school staffs has disrupted classes, prompting the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to close down.
At a news conference on Monday, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced that “all schools across LAUSD will be closed” on Tuesday. The superintendent expressed that the district is attempting to negotiate with the union in order to reach a settlement before the closures have a negative impact on children.
“We are committed to continue good faith bargaining with our labor partners around the clock to reach an agreement before a strike occurs. I have invited union leaders to have a direct conversation with me to negotiate day and night to reach an understanding to spare our children from the avoidable disastrous consequences of a strike. Our students should not be victims,” Carvalho’s letter reads.
The leader of the nation’s second largest school district empathized the true victims of that “difficult day” as more than 60,000 bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria employees, campus security, teaching assistants and educators from the Los Angeles Unified School District left their duties. The United Teachers of Los Angeles, which represents about 35,000 teachers, joined them.
According to the superintendent, “leaning loss, deprivation of food and nutrition that many of our kids depend on, deprivation of safety and security that schools provide to our kids” are some of the impending effects of school closures.
“I know that we focus our attention on the needs of the workforce. I need to focus my attention on also primarily on the needs of our kids,” Carvalho said.
On Tuesday, Carvalho said no talks took place. Despite this, he promised to be available all-day Tuesday to resume negotiations, and maybe end the three-day strike.
“I made myself available alongside my team for hours today, hoping that we would, in fact, be able to have a conversation for a whole host of reasons, some of which I do not understand,” he said. “We were never in the same room, or even in the same building.”
Despite this, Executive Director of Local 99 Max Arias had said that he does not anticipate a resolution before the anticipated protest because he does not see the district bending.
In a statement by SEIU Local 99, it had said that “the strike will begin at 4:30 am Tuesday, March 21 and continue through Thursday March 23.”
The union expressed its own frustration with the school district, however, claiming it compromised confidentiality about the negotiations.
The LAUSD is being pressured by roughly 30,000 school support personnel to give them a 30% raise, and a $2 per hour equality wage hike. The school district has made a number of concessions, including a minimum wage increase to $20 and raises of more than 15%.
Schools are expected to restart no later than Friday since the strike is only supposed to last three days.
For the meantime, the school district has set up stations where parents may pick up meals for their kids on each of the three days that schools are closed.
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