Los Angeles school strike affects 420,000 students

Schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the country, will close for three days. The convening unions are demanding a 30% salary increase for teachers.

Workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest in the country, began a strike on Tuesday which will last, tentatively, until March 23. Unions representing employees allege that LAUSD engages in "malpractice" and call for demonstrations in front of schools and school district facilities.

In a statement, Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union -the organization leading the walkout- reported that some 65,000 employees -including school bus drivers, janitors and aides, as well as teachers- will support it during these three days. "The strike will begin at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 21 and continue through Thursday, March 23," the union said.

All LAUSD schools will be closed and approximately 420,000 students will be affected during these three days. Although union representatives and California officials engaged in settlement talks in recent days, negotiations broke down and the strike was called. In the statement, the unions denounced that the school district subjected the workers to "surveillance, intimidation and harassment".

Among the main reasons for this strike is a 30% salary increase demanded by educators. As reported in The New York Times the workers allege that they are paid little more than minimum wage and that it makes it impossible for them to afford the cost of living.

Focused on the wellbeing of students

On the opposite side of the conflict are school district officials. Alberto M. Carvalho, LAUSD superintendent, assured that they are reaching out to the unions to resolve the situation:

Carvalho added that they will look out for the wellbeing of the students:

We will continue to negotiate as long as it takes for our students. We must avoid wasting instructional time and social and emotional development time. We are doing everything possible and I remain optimistic that an agreement will be reached. Families should be prepared in the event of a strike. We have established partnerships to provide students with supervised activities and meal distribution, depending in the center.