All Los Angeles Unified School District schools will be closed Tuesday as a strike of tens of thousands of workers and teachers appears imminent, superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced Monday. If no deal is reached, the strike is set to begin at 4:30 a.m. PT Tuesday and last through Thursday.
“We do not believe at this point that tomorrow’s event is avoidable,” Carvalho said at a press conference Monday evening. “With that said, I will be here for however long it takes waiting on a call from a willing partner to have a meaningful conversation.”
Negotiations between LAUSD, the largest school district in the country, and Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represents LAUSD support staff like custodians, cafeteria workers and bus drivers, broke down last week. The union on Monday then accused the district of leaking a confidential mediation meeting that was scheduled for Monday to the press.
“This afternoon, SEIU Local 99 had agreed to enter a confidential mediation process with LAUSD to try and address our differences,” the union said Monday in a statement. “Unfortunately, LAUSD broke that confidentiality by sharing it with the media before our bargaining team, which makes all decisions, had a chance to discuss how to proceed. This is yet another example of the school district’s continued disrespect of school workers. We are ready to strike.”
“We want to be clear that we are not in negotiations with LAUSD,” SEIU Local 99 added. “We continue to be engaged in the impasse process with the state.”
The union represents roughly 30,000 school support staff. The local teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, has said it will honor the strike as well, meaning some 60,000 workers are set to walk out Tuesday.
“We’ve run out of time,” Carvalho said Monday. “I made myself available, alongside my team, for hours today, hoping that we would in fact be able to have a conversation. For a whole host of reasons, some of which I do not understand, we were never in the same room. Or even in the same building.”
Carvalho said he would remain available for negotiations throughout the rest of the night and Tuesday.
Two dozen grab-and-go food sites will be open and several Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation sites and Los Angeles public libraries will be open to provide supervision for students, Carvalho said.
Carvalho said Monday that the strike was not called “on the basis of economic conditions or compensation demands,” but said it was instead called because of “allegations of unfair treatment.” However, workers who spoke with CBS Los Angeles mentioned a living wage as a major demand, with one saying the demands include a 30% pay increase along with increased staffing and more hours for part-time workers.
“It is not a question of being greedy,” LAUSD employee Adrian Alverez told CBS Los Angeles. “We need to make a living wage.”
“We live in this weird paradox as workers that help feed children and yet we struggle to feed our own children,” Alverez added. “It’s a paradox. We help students go to college, yet we don’t have enough money to send our kids to college.”
Carvalho said Monday that the district has offered a 23% pay increase along with a 3% “cash in hand bonus.”