LA school strike – news: 420,000 students sent home as teachers back workers in three-day protest

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A massive three-day strike by school support staff in Los Angeles has seen 420,000 children sent home as the city’s teachers union refused to cross the picket lines in solidarity.

The walk-out has been carried out by 30,000 support workers for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which includes custodians, cafeteria workers and bus drivers.

And they have been joined in the Tuesday-to-Thursday work stoppage by 30,000 colleagues from Unified Teachers Los Angeles, who have gone on strike in support.

Los Angeles Unified School District, LAUSD teachers and Service Employees International Union 99 (SEIU) members strike during heavy rain outside the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center

LAUSD is the country’s second-largest school district with all 1,000 campuses now shut down. At the heart of the matter is low wages, say union bosses.

The Service Employees International Union Local 99 union has been in negotiations with LAUSD for almost a year as workers seek a 30 per cent pay rise and increased work hours for part-time staff.

The goal of the union is to raise the average wage of its members from $25,000 to $36,000, but the latest round of negotiations broke down on Monday, paving the way for the workers’ strike.

Adam Schiff, the US congressman for Burbank who is running for the US Senate in 2024, joined the picket lines at Kennedy Community School where he called the median income of $25,000 for striking workers “poverty wages.”

“People with some of the most important responsibilities in our schools should not have to live in poverty,” Mr Schiff said. “They deserve to work in dignity and live in dignity.”

Tens of thousands of workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District walked off the job on Tuesday over stalled contract talks

Over the weekend LAUSD leaders say they offered a cumulative raise of 23 per cent, starting with a two per cent retroactive raise back to the 2020-2021 school year, reported The Los Angeles Times.

This would culminate in a five per cent raise for the 2024-2025 school year.

The union wants to raise the average wage of its members from $25,000 to $36,000

The deal would also have seen a one-time three per cent bonus for workers on the job since 2020-2021, expanded hours, improved eligibility for healthcare and more full-time positions.