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LAUSD files breaking legal challenge to stop impending strike and school closings

Los Angeles Unified officials are mounting a last-minute legal challenge to stop or prevent a three-day strike that would close classrooms in the nation’s second-largest school district starting Tuesday.

The district has asked state labor regulators to issue an injunction to stop the strike, claiming it is illegal. District sources acknowledged they don’t know if the state Public Employment Relations Board will act on the filing in time to avoid the strike.

The challenge cites the unusual legal basis and timing of the strike, which would occur before the typical step-by-step negotiation process has been completed.

The strike is led by Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represents some 30,000 bus drivers, teacher aides, campus security aides, special education aides, janitors, gardeners and cafeteria workers. United Teachers Los Angeles leaders have encouraged their members to join the strike. UTLA represents some 35,000 teachers, nurses, counselors, therapists, and librarians.

Each union is in a separate bargaining track with LA Unified. Local 99 is further along in the process, having reached the investigative stage, according to documents filed with state labor regulators.

In general, the investigation of the facts would be completed before a strike. In addition, both parties would also have to present their “last, best and final offer”.

But this labor action is different.

It is, in effect, a protest by Local 99 in response to alleged illegal acts by LAUSD that the union says have prevented its leaders and members from participating in legal union-related activities.

The district denies any wrongdoing. In its filing, the district accuses Local 99 of using baseless allegations as a pretext when, in fact, the real issue that led to the strike is the district’s unwillingness to comply with union demands for wages, benefits and other terms. .

The filing also calls for an injunction simply because certain Local 99 members are “essential employees” whose absence from work during the strike would “imminently threaten public health and safety.”

The LA Unified filing also notes that the state labor board “has held that strikes or other work stoppages prior to the completion” of the bargaining process “violate the union’s duty to bargain in good faith and/or engage in good faith.” in resolving the deadlock”. process.”

Local 99 did not have an opportunity to review the injunction filing and did not provide an immediate response Friday night.

A deal that would avoid the strike seemed unlikely Friday as no negotiations took place between LAUSD officials and Local 99.

The teachers union negotiated with the district on Friday, but a deal did not seem likely in these negotiations either. And even a deal with UTLA wouldn’t stop Local 99 members from pulling out.

Local 99 last held a bargaining session with the district on March 1. Los Angeles superintendent of schools. Alberto Carvalho said this week that he and his team are ready to meet with Local 99 “24 hours a day” to avoid a strike.

He urged the union not to take a step that would further harm students already struggling to recover academically and emotionally from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Union officials suggest the effort was insincere and too little, too late.

“More than half of SEIU Local 99 members are also parents of school-age children, many of them LAUSD students,” spokeswoman Blanca Gallegos said Friday. “We are very aware of the impact a strike will have on our families. LAUSD has pressured workers to take this step because of their continued disrespect for workers who are simply looking to improve their livelihoods and the student services they provide.”

He added: “SEIU Local 99 also continues to pursue the legal mediation process with the state. If LAUSD wants to break the gridlock, it must meet workers’ demands for a living wage, longer hours, more staff, and respect on the job.”

The union is seeking an overall 30% raise plus an additional $2 per hour for the lowest-paid workers.

The district had been offering a 15% raise for three years plus one-time bonuses of 4% and 5% in consecutive years.

On Friday, the district modified its proposal:

  • One-time 5% bonus for the 2020-21 school year
  • 5% continued increase for 2021-22
  • 5% continuous increase for 2022-23
  • 6% continuous increase by 2023-23
  • 3% continuous increase by 2024-25

Meanwhile, the school system, city, county and local groups continue to prepare contingency plans for a strike.
LA Unified has launched achieve.lausd.net/school updates to provide resources to families during the period of work stoppage. Updates and additional information will be posted “as it becomes available,” according to the school system.

The website includes information on learning activities, Grab & Go meal locations, tutoring services, enrichment activities, and cultural opportunities in Los Angeles and the locations of Los Angeles County parks that will provide free programs for youth.

Principals will also be reaching out to families daily to provide pertinent updates, the district stated.

The school system will also post updates on social media.