Los Angeles public schools are likely to close in the event of a planned three-day, simultaneous strike by unions representing 65,000 workers, including teachers and support staff, because the walkout is too overwhelming and the safety of students cannot be guaranteed in the second largest school district in the country, Supt. Alberto Carvalho announced on Monday night.
“If this strike happens, despite our best efforts to prevent it, due to the expected shortage of both teachers and school staff, we will probably have to close the schools – without virtual education – until the end the strike,” Carvalho said in an email to families. “We have no way of ensuring a safe and secure environment in which teaching can take place. We will give you as much advance notice as possible, but we encourage you to start discussions with your employer, childcare providers and others now.”
In a separate email to employees he conveyed the same message, adding that preparations for support and learning outside the school will be made.
“We are making every effort to provide students with resources for learning, social emotional well-being and nutrition in the event of a strike.”
The scheduled strike dates will be announced at a rally Wednesday in Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles. If it happens, the walkout will be led by Local 99 of Service Employees International, which represents about 30,000 workers, including bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria and other food service workers, campus security aides, teaching assistants and aides for students with disabilities.
United Teachers Los Angeles, which is also in contract talks, advised its members that they should walk out in solidarity with Local 99 to increase pressure on the district.
Local 99 described the strike as an unfair labor practice charge walkout in protest of alleged illegal actions by LA Unified during the negotiation process. Such strikes usually last for a fixed duration and can be carried out without going through all the bargaining steps that normally precede an open-ended strike, according to the unions.
LA Unified officials have denied wrongdoing.
Local 99 leaders recently declared a bargaining impasse and are moving through a mediation and fact-finding process. The union, which has not settled wage issues since the 2020-21 school year, is looking for a 30% raise for all members, with additional assistance for minimum wage workers.
United Teachers Los Angeles’ 35,000 members include teachers, counselors, therapists, nurses and librarians. UTLA formally terminated its expired contract on Friday, giving its members the opportunity to join the Local 99 strike, according to the union.
The teachers’ union is seeking a 20% increase over two years, starting with 10% for the current school year. The union bargaining platform is broad, covering a range of workplace and social-justice issues, including a commitment to additional resources for Black students and affordable housing for low-income families .
Unions pointed to the district’s record multibillion-dollar reserves, recent inflation and the high cost of living in Southern California in support of their demands. The district countered that its offers were generous and that much of the surplus was one-time funding that could not go toward ongoing costs.
Until the announcement, it was unclear whether the district would try to keep campuses and classes open with a mix of supervisors, workers in other unions and striking union members willing to cross picket lines.
Unions not involved in the strike include those representing clerical workers, library assistants, school police and administrators.
A six-day strike in 2019 involved only the teachers union. Campuses remained open and safe for students, although little instruction took place and attendance was low.