The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), a union representing teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), announced a three-day strike, closing schools.
About 30,000 workers in the district, comprised of cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, and other school workers, are leading the strike. They asked it to “use $4.9 billion in reserves to invest in staff, students, and communities.”
Last night, with upwards of 45,000 supporters, @SEIULocal99, the union of LA school bus drivers, custodians, and other staff, announced a 3-day strike next week.@UTLAnow, the teachers union, will honor the picket line, and LA schools will shut down.
📸: @TedSoquiPhoto pic.twitter.com/O9Fq3H4sCX
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) March 16, 2023
LAUSD Supt. Alberto Carvalho urged union leadership to form negotiations “around the clock” to avert the strike, arguing that it would harm more than 420,000 students trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic academically and emotionally.
“I have 2, 3, 4 chairs around the table,” Carvalho said at a press conference, “and I commit myself 24/7, day and night … to find a solution that will avoid, will avert a strike that will avoid keeping kids home, will avoid kids from going hungry in our community without access to the food they get in school.”
Teachers demanded a pay increase, funding for Black students, and environment-friendly “green” schools.
In response, the superintendent offered more than a 15% pay increase, retention bonuses, and increasing the minimum wage up to $20. He said the union is “simply refusing to negotiate” despite the “historic” proposals.
“With both time and resources to be allocated in reaching an agreement, we are calling on them to come to the table for staff and students, right now,” the superintendent said before the strike’s announcement.
“We need to reach a resolution that honors the work of our dedicated employees while respecting the rights our children have to a quality education, meals, and access to enriching school activities,” he added.
In 2019, the UTLA staged a strike, keeping schools closed in Los Angeles for several days until it agreed to a 6% pay increase.
The union supported the Black Lives Matter movement and demanded that the Los Angeles School Police Department; be defunded. In 2020, its board of directors voted; 35-2 to redirect money from the police department to mental health institutions.
Teachers in several school districts have gone on strike since 2022.
In 2023, teachers across Texas gathered at the state Capitol, demanding better pay and working conditions.
Over 120,000 more workers went on strike in 2022 than in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marking a 50% increase from the 80,000 workers who went on strike in 2021.
The average salary of a teacher in California is over $80,000, one of the highest in the U.S.