Speed Reads

Shutting Down The District

LA school district in turmoil after 30,000 employees go on strike

Thousands of workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) began a three-day strike on Tuesday that has shut down the nation's second-largest school system. 

The union that is leading the strike, Local 99 of Service Employees International Union, says on its website that it represents "30,000 cafeteria workers, special education assistants, custodians, bus drivers, and others providing essential student services at LAUSD schools." The striking employees were joined in solidarity by hundreds of teachers from the LAUSD, with one of the area's largest teacher's unions, United Teachers Los Angeles, encouraging educators to join the strike. 

The main demand by Local 99 employees is a 30 percent pay increase over four years. The leaders of the union say their members "are paid not much more than the minimum wage as living costs surge in Southern California," The New York Times reported. Negotiations to reach a last-minute deal between the union and the district fell apart on Monday. 

The strike has brought the LAUSD, which has more than 400,000 students from the greater Los Angeles area, to a complete standstill. LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has been lambasting the strike for days, saying in a statement that the union was "simply refusing to negotiate."

"We need to reach a resolution that honors the work of our dedicated employees, while respecting the rights our children have to a quality education, meals, and access to enriching school activities," Carvalho added.

While kids may be out of class, the LAUSD has provided some contingencies for child care. The district has set up a limited supervision program in some schools, though the Los Angeles Times noted the program had "a combined capacity of about 12,000 — compared with the district enrollment of more than 422,000."

The Times noted that the district will also hand out up to 360,000 pre-packaged meals at 24 sites.