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LA school district warns of possible shutdowns after 65,000 workers plan 3-day strike

Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest district in the nation, which enrolls more than 600,000 students, warned parents of possible shutdowns after 65,000 teachers and other staff planned a three-day walkout, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In an email to parents on Monday evening, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stated, “If this strike does occur, despite our best efforts to avoid it, due to the anticipated lack of both teachers and school staff, it is likely we would have to close schools — without virtual education — until the strike ends.”

“We would simply have no way of ensuring a safe and secure environment where teaching can take place. We will give you as much advance notice as possible, but we encourage you to begin discussions with your employer, child care providers and others now,” he added.

Local 99 of Service Employees International, a union representing roughly 30,000 workers, including bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, security aides, and teaching assistants and aides, intends to announce the dates of the strike on Wednesday.

If the labor union goes through with the planned walkout, members of the United Teachers Los Angeles, whose contract is also expired, plan to join the demonstration to pressure the district to fold to contract demands.

Local 99 accused LA public schools of taking illegal actions during negotiations. As a result, it voted to strike in February “to protest the district’s unfair practices, including threats, interrogation, and surveillance of members who participated in last month’s strike vote.”

The district has denied the allegations.

Local 99 is seeking a 30% wage increase for all its members, with an additional $2 per hour wage increase for its lowest earners.

The district stated that it countered the union’s request by offering more than a 15% raise, retention bonuses, and increasing the minimum wage to $20 per hour.

UTLA requested a 20% raise over two years from the district. The labor unions are pushing the district to dip into its multibillion-dollar reserves to meet the members’ demands.

“SEIU Local 99 and UTLA members work side by side in LA schools every day and share a vision for using the district’s historic level of reserves to invest in LA schools through higher pay to attract and retain experienced staff, smaller class sizes, cleaner schools, and access to the counselors, special education assistants, nurses, psychologists, food service workers, custodians, librarians, and others necessary for student success,” UTLA said.

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