LOS ANGELES – Tens of thousands of teachers and educational workers stood shoulder to shoulder at a “United For LA Schools Rally” to protest Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) failure to address critical issues in our schools and key contract demands. Members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99 gathered alongside students, parents, labor and community leaders, and allies in a historic show of solidarity at Grand Park to denounce LAUSD’s lack of movement, despite sitting on $4.9 billion in reserves.
For almost a year, UTLA and SEIU have been at the bargaining table fighting for a contract that would bring educational workers out of poverty, reduce class sizes, and fully staff each school with the aides, nurses, custodians, librarians, counselors, social workers, psychologists, and bus drivers LAUSD students desperately need. This is the first time in Los Angeles history that both union’s are fighting jointly while contract negotiations are happening simultaneously.
Moreover, Local 99 members announced that they will be holding a three-day
strike on Tuesday March 21st through Thursday March 23rd in protest of LAUSD’s unfair labor practices. UTLA members will respect the strike and not work, joining picket lines and rallies in solidarity with Local 99 members.
“Despite LAUSD having one of the largest school budgets and largest reserves in the nation – teachers and essential school workers are struggling to support their own families and live in the communities they work for. To add insult to injury, the district has chosen to violate their legal rights as workers, resulting in an unfair labor practice strike,” said UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz.” The district has given the educational employees who work hard to keep our schools running no other choice, but to protest their retaliatory behavior. Denying education staff livable wages and refusing to invest in our students has devastated our public schools and pushed inequality to perilous levels. Until Superintendent Carvahlo and the district cut the charades and come to the table with tangible proposals, we will continue our unified escalation.”
“SEIU Local 99 education workers work side-by-side with UTLA teachers every day. Today, we stand together to fight for the future of our public schools in Los Angeles,” said Max Arias, SEIU Local 99 Executive Director. “We stand together to demand increased staffing for student services. We come together to demand living wages and respect for workers who support student learning. We know the decision to strike will be a sacrifice, but it is an action LAUSD has forced us to take to ensure that they value our contributions to student learning and respect essential workers in our schools.”
SEIU members, who make an average salary of $25,000 a year, have been working under an expired contract for nearly two years. Many of these education workers are struggling with food and housing insecurity because LAUSD pays them poverty wages and refuses to provide full-time employment even though our schools are clearly understaffed. With over 60,000 employees and 500,000 students impacted by LAUSD’s lack of urgency, the two largest LAUSD unions joining forces over violations of labor law and their shared struggle for contract demands that are essential for our students, schools, and communities illustrates the gravity of this situation.
When met with an opportunity to resolve the labor dispute with SEIU, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho simply announced his decision to close down the schools during the strike, creating more challenges for LAUSD families that could easily be avoided by treating employees with respect and dignity.