Hundreds of schools in Los Angeles closed Tuesday as thousands of employees began a scheduled three-day walkout amid a push for new contracts.
Los Angeles Union School District personnel who assembled for public demonstrations they claim their campuses have suffered due to low wages and understaffing.
“There is not even anyone requesting because you can make more money starting at Burger King,” said instructional assistant Marlee Ostrow. “A lot of people really want to help kids, and they shouldn’t be penalized for wanting to make that their life’s work.”
Ostrow, 67, says he makes $16 an hour, up from a rate of $11.75 when he started in the district nearly 20 years ago.
At the center of the strike is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents 30,000 employees, including teacher aides, janitors and bus drivers. The union claims that employees average $25,000 per year and deserve a 30% raise.
LAUSD teachers are also seeking a 20% raise. His contract with the district ended last June, two years after the SEIU agreement expired.
“We want to make it clear that we are not in negotiations with LAUSD,” SEIU said in a statement. “We remain engaged in the stalemate process with the state.”
The district superintendent, Alberto M. Carvalho, says the union refused to negotiate.
“I think this strike could have been avoided,” Carvalho said Monday. “But it can’t be helped without people actually talking to each other.”
LAUSD, the second largest school district in the US, enrolls nearly 430,000 students, according to their website. The district planned to keep about 150 of its campuses open with adult supervision Tuesday to give students a place to go, but closed hundreds of others.
with cable news services