A massive three-day walkout planned by most Los Angeles public school employees — bus drivers, teachers, janitors and others — began early Tuesday, with pickets marching into the dark, rainy morning.
Hundreds of school employees, many among the lowest paid, joined the picket line before 5 a.m. at the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Van Nuys bus yard, marching in ponchos and swinging signs with their umbrellas.
The employees shouted: “Whose house? Our house!” according to a union tweetand held signs that read “Last Drop” and “We Demand Respect!”
Other strikers have joined the picket line at many schools across the sprawling district.
Last-minute efforts Monday failed to prevent the walkout that shut down Los Angeles public schools, disrupting learning, vital food services and daily life for some 420,000 children and their families in the nation’s second-largest school system. .
There was hope of averting the strike based on informal talks over the weekend and mediation that resumed Monday between the school district and the union leading the strike, Service Employees International Union Local 99.
The union represents some of the lowest-paid workers in the district, including bus drivers, teacher aides, special education aides, security aides, custodians and food service workers. The union is demanding a 30% wage increase, plus $2 more per hour for the lowest-paid workers.
As of Saturday, the district’s offer, according to its leaders, was a 23% cumulative increase, starting with 2% retroactive to the 2020-21 school year and ending with 5% in 2024-25. The package would also include a one-time 3% bonus for those who have worked since 2020-21, along with expanded hours, more full-time positions and improved health care eligibility.
United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents teachers, nurses, therapists, counselors and librarians, has urged its members to strike in support of Local 99.
Union executive director Max Arias said Local 99’s primary goal has been to increase the average annual salary for members from $25,000 to $36,000.