More than 60,000 employees went on strike Tuesday in Los Angeles, forcing public schools to turn away 422,000 students after nearly yearlong contract negotiations stalled. The Los Angeles Unified School District stoppage could last three days, USA Today reports. The action is being led by Local 99 of Service Employees International Union, which represents some of the lowest-paid workers in the district, including bus drivers, teacher's aides, security aides, special education assistants, custodians and food service workers. The union wants their pay to be raised by 30% and employees at the bottom of the scale to receive another $2 per hour, per the Los Angeles Times.
Strikers picketed Tuesday in the rain at schools and a bus yard, carrying signs reading "Respect us!" "This is what solidarity looks like right here," Max Arias, the local's executive director, said in a news conference while passing drivers tapped their horns in support. Teachers stayed out in solidarity with the strikers. "We will stand united, 65,000 members strong, until LAUSD and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho give respect to the education workers that keep our schools running and our children safe," said Cecily Myart-Cruz, teachers union president, at the news conference. Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat, said the workers are paid poverty wages. "The median income of our bus drivers and our cafeteria workers and our school aides is $25,000 a year," he said. "Who can live on $25,000 a year?"
The shutdown left parents looking for child care possibilities. Parks and certain school campuses will be open, with supervision and programming. The Times has details about options here, and the school district posted a map showing locations here. More than 100 games involving the schools' spring sports teams are being canceled over the three days, as are practices. (Read more Los Angeles Unified School District stories.)