Custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and other support workers at the Los Angeles Unified School District plan to conduct a 24-hour strike on May 15 to protest what they say are unfair labor practices by the school district, a union spokeswoman said Sunday.
The tentative one-day strike comes after a vote by LAUSD support workers to authorize a strike late last month, Service Employees International Union Local 99 spokeswoman Blanca Gallegos told City News Service Sunday.
The union represents some 30,000 workers, including bus drivers, custodial workers, special education assistants, teachers’ assistants, food service workers and truck drivers, Gallegos said.
“The school district is practicing unfair labor practices against these workers and the rights of school workers are not being respected,” Gallegos continued.
SEIU 99 has filed charges with the state Public Employment Relations Board to protest the District’s decision to cut the hours of special education assistants, even as the district and union were negotiating over staffing and work hours, Gallegos said.
In a statement released from the LAUSD by district Chief Communications Officer Shannon Haber, the district confirmed that after 16 months of bargaining, the two sides were at an impasse and the union provided notice of the strike on Friday.
L.A. Unified values and affirms the importance of the work down by SEIU Local 99 members and all employees. We believe that our economic offer is just and fair, especially considering the District’s fiscal realities and obligation to maximize limited resources to meet the needs of school communities.
Union leaders, however, were fed up.
“Enough is enough,” said Tanya Walters, a LAUSD bus driver and vice president of SEIU Local 99.
“We’re trying to work with the district to address issues that impact our students. But instead of listening to those of us who work with students on the frontlines every day, they have bullied and harassed workers who speak up,” Walters said.
“And they’ve made staffing cuts and changes without speaking with those of us who do the work. We don’t want to strike, but we will move forward on May 15 if the district continues to disrespect our voices and disregards our work.”
Gallegos told CNS that the strike would only be called off if the district “ends its unfair labor practices and recognizes the rights of workers.”
The district says the next step is for the state’s Public Employment Relations Board, or PERB, to review the district’s declaration of impasse.
“If PERB also issues a finding that we are at impasse,” the district’s statement reads, “the parties will engage in impasse procedures, including mediation.”