Parent groups in California and those specifically in Los Angeles are enraged that tens of thousands of staff and teachers of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) went out on strike Tuesday, demanding higher pay and increased staffing in district schools.
“Parents are fed up with LAUSD unions using kids as pawns in contract negotiations,” tweeted Parent Union (CPC), a coalition of parents, parent groups, education reform advocates and community leaders dedicated to advancing meaningful education policies, accountability and choice in California’s K-12 education system.”
👀 Parents are fed up with LAUSD unions using kids as pawns in contract negotiations. Check out the comments on this @SEIULocal99 post. https://t.co/R4ukvF1Why
— Parent Union (CPC) (@ParentUnionCPC) March 20, 2023
There are other ways to settle contract disputes without using students as leverage. 80% of LAUSD students are from low-income families. Many are scrambling to find childcare & have to pick up 3 days worth of school meals tomorrow morning by 10:30am. https://t.co/y2y6kXVUHd
— Parent Union (CPC) (@ParentUnionCPC) March 20, 2023
“Thousands of cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, special education assistants and other essential school workers will lead a three-day strike to protest the school district’s unfair practices,” Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99 posted March 15 in advance of the strike. “Teachers [United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA)] will be joining.”
🚨STRIKE ALERT-March 21-23🚨
Thousands of cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, special education assistants and other essential school workers @LASchools will lead a three-day strike to protest the school district’s unfair practices. @UTLAnow Teachers will be joining👏🏾 pic.twitter.com/PdJOlWsWT5
— SEIU Local 99 (@SEIULocal99) March 16, 2023
Union leaders blamed the school district for the strike.
“As LAUSD parents and workers, SEIU Local 99 members know a strike will be a sacrifice but the school district has pushed workers to take this action,” Max Arias, SEIU Local 99’s executive director, said in a statement. “Families have been sacrificing for far too long on poverty wages. Students have been sacrificing for too long in school environments that are not clean, safe or supportive for all. Too many workers have been subjected to harassment simply for demanding change. Enough is Enough!”
According to The Los Angeles Times, the strike is keeping 420,000 children out of school.
U.S. Representative Adam B. Schiff (D-CA-30) joined with the striking workers at Kennedy Community School, the report noted, claiming the median income of $25,000 for district employees who serve as bus drivers, cafeteria workers and aides amounts to “poverty wages.”
“People with some of the most important responsibilities in our schools should not have to live in poverty,” Schiff said. “They deserve to work in dignity and live in dignity.”
SEIU Local 99 is demanding the average annual wage of its members be raised from $25,000 to $36,000.
The Times reported further:
This weekend, the offer from the district, according to its leaders, was a cumulative 23% raise, starting with 2% retroactive as of 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 be on the job since 2020-21, along with expanded hours, more full-time positions and improved eligibility for healthcare benefits.
🚨LAUSD STRIKE ALERT!🚨RAIN OR SHINE WE ARE OUT AT THE PICKET LINES!
Local 99 bus drivers we’re out this morning @LASchools Van Nuys Bus Yard. Did you know Local 99 represents nearly 1000 district bus drivers? #LAUSDStrike #United4LASchools #Solidarity #99Strong #UnionsForAll pic.twitter.com/GlkymkEz4E
— SEIU Local 99 (@SEIULocal99) March 21, 2023
LA Parent Union, which self-describes as “the largest LAUSD parent advocacy group,” is fighting back against the union narrative:
Our kids’ schools will be closed next week for 3 days because our children are the highest value pawns UTLA/SEIU have. https://t.co/V3GoaJRD3W
— LA Parent Union (@UTLAUncensored) March 16, 2023
Comparing adults tantruming at the expense of children to severe storms that kill people and cause immense damage is just what i would expect from a multimillionaire teacher union mouth piece… it just doesn’t make sense. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/nPZXqBXBdA
— LA Parent Union (@UTLAUncensored) March 20, 2023
U.S. Representative Kevin Kiley (R-CA-03) called for the district to be “broken up.”
“The latest LA Unified school shutdown, affecting 420,000 students, should be a final straw,” he posted. “This is not a functional district. It needs to be broken up.”
The latest LA Unified school shutdown, affecting 420,000 students, should be a final straw. This is not a functional district. It needs to be broken up.
— Kevin Kiley (@KevinKileyCA) March 18, 2023
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten continued the union narrative, stating the unions are “calling for management to come to the table fairly and get an agreement with teachers and school support personnel.”
“That will send a huge message that it’s not just what we demand, it’s a priority for the country,” the union boss added.
But LAUSD Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho asserted children are again missing more school days since the COVID lockdowns.
“They cannot afford to be out of school and that is why I am appealing directly to the union leadership to engage and negotiate in good faith and find a solution that addresses the needs of all, including our students,” he tweeted.
A California Policy Center analysis estimates that if @SEIULocal99 and @UTLAnow persist with the three-day strike, LAUSD students will collectively lose between 1 million and 1.6 million days of classroom instruction during that time. https://t.co/NcchQmfieS
— California Policy Center (@CalPolicyCenter) March 21, 2023
Erika Sanzi, director of outreach at Parents Defending Education, commented that Weingarten “is always ready and willing to lock children out of schools.”
Randi is always ready and willing to lock children out of their schools. https://t.co/41IGzA7bLV
— Erika Sanzi (@esanzi) March 17, 2023
In March of 2022, House Republicans discovered apparent collusion between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Weingarten’s union when a CDC official testified the health agency coordinated with the union at an “unprecedented” level to craft COVID reopening guidance that ultimately kept the nation’s public schools closed.
School choice champion Corey A. DeAngelis tweeted his recommendation.
“Los Angeles government schools spend over $20,000 per student per year,” he observed. “Give that money to families so they can find alternatives.”
Los Angeles government schools spend over $20,000 per student per year
Give that money to families so they can find alternatives. pic.twitter.com/v7sXa9oecr
— Corey A. DeAngelis, school choice evangelist (@DeAngelisCorey) March 17, 2023
Soon, we will gather signatures for a 2024 statewide measure to #FundStudents (regardless of zip code) with #EducationalSavingsAccounts because too many govt systems like #LAUSD put the demands of public sector unions like #UTLA ahead of children's academic and social needs.
— Californians For School Choice (@SchoolChoice22) March 17, 2023
As the strike continues, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass (D) announced some resources for LAUSD families, reported ABC7 News. For food distribution, the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks will offer 21 recreation centers that will serve as grab-and-go locations for families.
A free after-school program at 30 recreation centers for elementary-level students will also be available, and the Los Angeles Zoo will offer free admission to all students. All libraries will also be open.
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Susan Berry, PhD is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Parent Union Protest” by Parent Union (CPC).