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Day 2 of LAUSD strike dawns amid more protests, more rancor, more rain



Day 2 of a mammoth strike that shut down classes at Los Angeles Unified School District schools dawned on Wednesday, March 22, starting first day — with protesters in rainy day garb rallying amid showers at a school bus yard, this one on South Hoover Street in Gardena.

With schools again closed, parents of more than 400,000 students would continue to scramble for places for their children to spend the day. For the union, scheduled events for the day included a news conference at Polytechnic High in Sun Valley and another rally at the LAUSD Local District Offices in L.A.

Strikers could expect more wet weather. Intervals of heavy rain and intense winds were again forecast for Wednesday as the latest storm system to soak Southern California during this particularly wet winter hovered over the region for a second day.

Related: Here’s where families can get help during LAUSD strike

The rains didn’t deter strikers on Tuesday. SEIU Local 99’s workers — including cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, special education assistants and others — were joined in sympathy by about 30,000 members of the UTLA union. Both unions are seeking new contracts with the LAUSD, although only the SEIU has called a strike.

The district will continue to offer more than 150 student supervision sites in partnership with the City of Los Angeles to help support families who could not afford day care or lack resources for students to stay home. The district distributed three days-worth of free food to families on Tuesday. The county’s parks and libraries also offered activities and food on Tuesday and planned to do so again on Wednesday.

The first day of the projected three-day walkout, on Tuesday, was filled with rallies, chants and protest signs, but no real sign of negotiating progress on a new labor contract.

“We are on strike because we’ve had enough,” said SEIU Local 99 President Conrado Guerrero on Tuesday. “As a building engineer I was called an essential worker by LAUSD during the pandemic. They seen to have forgotten that. Enough of the disrespect.”

Organizers for SEIU Local 99  announced late Tuesday that the union would continue its walkout for better pay, hours and working conditions on Wednesday.

LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho pleaded with labor leaders to return to the bargaining table.

“I understand our employees’ frustration that has been brewing, not just for a couple of years but for a couple of decades,” Carvalho said in a Tuesday statement. “And it is on the basis of recognizing historic inequities that we have put on the table a historic proposal. This offer addresses the needs and concerns from the union, while also remaining fiscally responsible and keeping the district in a financially stable position.”

But, SEIU Local 99 leaders say they have been negotiating unsuccessfully for months and have reached an impasse with the district.

The strike is the first major labor disruption for the district since UTLA teachers went on strike for six days in 2019. While both unions are currently seeking contract agreements, this time it is the concerns of SEIU members — who have an average salary of $25,000 — that are at the forefront of the strike.

According to the district, the LAUSD last week made an offer that included a 5% wage increase retroactive to July 2021, another 5% increase retroactive to July 2022 and another 5% increase effective July 2023, along with a 4% bonus in 2022-23 and a 5% bonus in 2023-24.

On Monday, Carvalho said the district sweetened the offer to an overall 23% salary increase, along with a 3% “cash-in-hand bonus.”

The union, however, has been pushing for a 30% pay raise, with an additional boost for the lowest-paid workers.

Mayor Karen Bass’ office issued a statement Friday saying she was closely monitoring the situation.

The district on Friday announced the creation of a website at which will “provide resources for families during the work stoppage period” from Tuesday through Thursday. According to the district, the site has information on “learning activities, tutoring services, enrichment activities and cultural opportunities across Los Angeles and Los Angeles County park locations that will provide free youth programs.” The district also established a hotline at 213-443-1300 , operating between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

City News Service contributed to this report

Source: Orange County Register

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