Roughly 30,000 workers within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) threaten to strike if the school district does not hear and meet their demands for higher wages.

Organizers for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, also known as Education Workers United, are in the process of scheduling elections where these LAUSD workers will vote on whether or not to strike if the two sides cannot come to an agreement.

“The main issue from our viewpoint, in schools, is there’s not enough staffing to keep the schools clean,” Executive Director for Education Workers United Max Arias told L.A. Weekly. “And the working conditions continue to be unsafe in school service. Understaffing contributes to that… and we think it is important to address those issues so that every student in every school has a clean, safe and supportive school.”

The SEIU Local 99 union represents thousands of essential staff, such as LAUSD bus drivers, custodial staff, teacher aides and cafeteria workers seeking  higher wages and more staffing.

The union and workers believe a lack of instructional aides and special education assistants have led to “learning loss and achievement gaps.” It also believes the current number of custodial staff is not sufficient for proper cleaning and disinfecting, an area of interest that was amplified during the pandemic.

Arias added that the pandemic had stalled negotiations between the union and school district for years, with talks resuming in April of 2022. Since then, the union said LAUSD has made no efforts toward “productive” bargaining.

On Dec. 13, 2022, workers walked out and picketed outside the LAUSD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Despite the threat of a strike, negotiations have not progressed, according to the SEIU Local 99.

“That is why workers are continuing plans to hold a vote in January to authorize a strike,” Arias said. “A strike is the last option but workers are preparing to take strong action to improve their livelihoods and conditions for students in our schools.”

After the December walkout, LAUSD issued a statement, stating it has met with the labor union multiple times and continues to listen to its demands.

“We are committed to compensating our employees fairly in this current economic environment, while also preserving our ability to provide services to our students in a sustainable manner that promotes lasting student achievement,” the district said.

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