Los Angeles school workers begin 3-day strike following year-long negotiations

Los Angeles school workers begin 3-day strike following year-long negotiations

'30,000 workers standing together can’t be intimidated, bullied, or underestimated,' says union

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - Tens of thousands of Los Angeles school workers, including bus drivers, custodians and other critical staff, walked off the job Tuesday, leaving nearly half-a-million students at home.

Talks between the workers union, SEIU Local 99, and the school district have been taking place for just under a year as 30,000 employees seek improved wages and benefits. Mediation resumed Monday in a last-ditch effort to prevent the strike but failed to reach a consensus.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is home to 420,000 students across hundreds of schools in the nation's second-largest school district. The union is seeking a 30% increase in wages for members, as well as a $2 per hour increase for its lowest-paid workers, according to the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

On Friday, the California Public Employment Relations Board rejected the school district's request for an injunction to thwart the strike which began at 4:30 a.m. (1130GMT) Tuesday and is slated to run through Thursday.

School workers overwhelmingly voted in February in favor of going on strike with 96% of union members approving of the last-ditch effort if a deal could not be reached. The union accused the district of engaging in "surveillance, intimidation, and harassment" during the voting process and negotiations.

Max Arias, the union's executive director, said in a statement that “30,000 workers standing together can’t be intimidated, bullied, or underestimated.”

“Despite LAUSD’s misleading statements in the media and threats against workers who are exercising their right to take action, our movement is only growing stronger. Teachers, students and parents in the district are standing with school workers and their right to take action – free from fear – to bargain for better wages and increased staffing in our schools," he added



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