03/21/2023 By Meghan O’Brien
The Los Angeles Unified School District began a three-day strike starting on Tuesday, in which tens of thousands of school teachers, faculty and other support staff instigated a temporary halt to the second-largest school system in the nation. The strike was organized and announced by the Service Employees International Union, which represents over 35,000 educators and staff members across Los Angeles and Los Angeles County.
Members and supporters of the union gathered early Tuesday morning to demand an increase in staffing and wages. According to the SEIU, most public school staff members make an average of $25,000 per year. In order to combat the rising inflation, the union is asking for a 30% increase in wages over the next two years.
Both children and parents alike have shown solidarity for school teachers and staff by rallying alongside union members. “We care about them, and this is the least we can do,” Danielle Peters, a mother to two children who are affected by recent school closures, told The Associated Press.
This is not the first time Los Angeles teachers have gone on strike on this scale. In early 2019, a six-day strike occurred, which led to an agreement of a 6% wage increase, the onboarding of more nurses and counselors, and a decrease in average size of a class. However, schools remained open during the strike period.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic heavily affecting the quality of school districts across the world, school teachers are receiving less support and more pushback from the administration and the government. LAUSD Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho has struggled to reach common ground with the union. “I commit myself … to find a solution that will avoid, will avert, a strike that will avoid keeping kids home, will avoid kids from going hungry in our community without access to the food they get in school,” he stated at a news conference on Wednesday, in his attempts to avoid the strike.
In order to provide further support for children that heavily rely on school resources, the district will keep 150 of the 1,000 schools open throughout the strike period in an attempt to give students in need a safe space. Various other libraries and parks across the county have volunteered to provide lunches for students.
As of now, a negotiation between the school district and the union has yet to occur.