Sat, 09 Dec 2023

LOS ANGELES, California: Some 30,000 education workers in Los Angeles, backed by teachers, went on a three-day strike, canceling school for some 420,000 students in the second-largest US school district.

The Service Employees International Union Local 99 is seeking to increase the average $25,000 per year wage of many of their members, who include school bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and classroom assistants.

Outside the Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters, thousands of workers pledged to continue their pickets for another two days, under the banner, "United for LA Schools."

The service workers are supported by the 35,000 members of the teachers' union United Teachers Los Angeles, who refused to cross their picket lines.

Many education workers have complained about burnout and low wages, leading to a teacher shortage in many parts of the US.

LA schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho admitted that workers have been underpaid for years, stressing that he was committed to reaching an agreement with their union.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that the union, which said 96 percent of its membership had authorized the strike, is demanding a 30 percent salary increase, plus an additional $2 per hour for low-paid workers.

Carvalho has said that the district was offering a 23 percent pay increase, plus a 3 percent bonus, adding "There are still additional resources to put on the table."

Staff burnout has been an issue for many years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional stress on teachers, leading many to leave to work in the private sector for better pay.

A 2022 survey by the largest labor union in the United States, the National Education Association, found that 55 percent of educators were thinking of leaving the profession, and 86 percent said they have seen more colleagues resign since the start of the pandemic.

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