The Los Angeles teachers’ union plans to join an anticipated three-day strike, possibly within two weeks, with thousands of LAUSD non-teaching workers, actions that would likely shut down schools in an explosion of labor unrest.
Local 99, which represents more than 25,000 cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, special education aides and others, has reached an impasse in its months-long negotiations with the district over demands for an overall rate increase. 30%, with more for the lowest wage earners. The union is expected to announce the timing of its three-day strike at a joint rally with the teachers union on Wednesday.
UTLA is also in the midst of labor negotiations, seeking a 20% pay raise over two years and a long list of school initiatives. On Friday, the union sent a letter to the Superintendent. Alberto Carvalho said he was terminating his contract with the district, a legal move that would allow its members to join the Local 99 strike, according to information posted online by the teachers union.
“This action shows that we are fed up with the pace of negotiations,” the union publication states. A joint UTLA-Local 99 rally demonstrates the strength of union solidarity aimed at increasing pressure on the district.
“Rescinding the contract removes LAUSD from enforcing a frivolous legal argument they made in 2019 that the contract termination must occur before UTLA as an organization can participate” in a strike, a unions faq statuses.
If Service Employees International Union Local 99 does not reach an agreement with the district, teachers would either stay home or picket with them. Local 99 had previously terminated his contract with the district, clearing the way for his own strike. Its workers include part-time employees and those who earn among the lowest wages in the school system.
“Don’t go to work,” the teachers’ union advised its members. “You need to join the (Local 99) picket line at your school. If there is not a picket line at your school, you should join one at a nearby school. There will be rallies during the strike and everyone should plan to attend them too.”
Spokesmen for both unions were not immediately available for comment.
Earlier this week, a statement from Local 99 said the union was canceling its contract “to protest LAUSD’s harassment of workers who participated in union activities, including a vote to strike last month. The contract cancellation also ends a ‘no strike’ provision, bringing workers one step closer to a potential strike to protest the district’s illegal practices.”
The district has denied any wrongdoing and also acknowledged the possibility of a strike in a statement this week:
“SEIU Local 99 provided a 10-day notice of its intent to terminate its contract with Los Angeles Unified. This action brings them one step closer to a strike, which would cause significant disruption to instruction and negatively impact our entire system.”
The district also posted on social media that its offers to employees are fair.
Touting the benefits of its salary package to Local 99, LA Unified said its $20-an-hour minimum wage would be at least 25% higher than what California and Los Angeles County require.
“In order to reach a quick conclusion and reach an agreement that is fair to our hard-working staff while maintaining our ability to serve students, Los Angeles Unified submitted a historic and comprehensive offer to SEIU Local 99 that would support both full-time and part-time students. employees,” the district stated.
UTLA’s letter to the district accuses the LA Unified School District of unreasonably clinging to a multi-million dollar reserve and bargaining in bad faith, saying that the LA Unified School District has “barely budged in its position on issues as crucial as the size of class, staff ratio, compensation, Special Education”. , Black Student Achievement Plan, Community Schools and more”.
UTLA represents teachers, counselors, nurses, and librarians.
Teachers are looking for a 10% raise each of the next two years. The district has offered a 5% annual raise plus two one-time 5% bonuses. Carvalho also indicated that there is room to offer more, but suggested that the union must engage on some other issues.
The teachers’ union has a complex, varied and prolonged Platform “Beyond Recovery” that goes far beyond wages and benefits. The union, for example, is demanding a guaranteed continuation of the Black Student Achievement Plan and efforts to provide housing for low-income families, though it is unclear which of these planks the union would be willing to attack.
Local 99 recently announced a pending strike on unfair practice charges in protest of what it says are dozens of illegal acts by the school system to prevent union members from exercising their meeting and deliberation rights as union members. Such a strike, of a specified duration, can be carried out without going through all the steps of the traditional bargaining process.
It’s not clear the district can keep campuses open if both unions walk out simultaneously. During the 2019 six-day teacher strike, campuses remained open, providing food and supervision, but instruction was limited and attendance was low.
The next bargaining session with the teachers’ union is March 17.
An agreement between the district and Local 99 would avoid the three-day strike.
“When we have 35,000 UTLA members joining 25,000 SEIU members in their three-day UPC strike, that’s 60,000 people,” the union said in an online post. “Once LAUSD experiences that, you know they don’t want to go through that again. This will help us force LAUSD to agree to our demands.”