Teachers On Strike


Thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers and Service Employees International Union 99 members rally outside the LAUSD headquarters in Los Angeles Tuesday, March 21, 2023. Thousands of service workers backed by teachers began a three-day strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District on Tuesday, shutting down education for a half-million students in the nation’s second-largest school system. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Yadiel Soto-Rocha

From March 21st to the 23rd in Los Angeles, the nation’s second-largest school district canceled classes as 60,000 education workers went on strike. Two of the significant education workers’ unions walked off the job, which ground the school district to a halt. SEIU Local 99, a union representing service workers and support staff, including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and teaching assistants in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), went on strike to protest unfair labor practices in the district. Another union known as the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) joined the strike in solidarity, shutting down the schools and bringing the number of striking workers to over sixty thousand.

Many of the workers from SEIU 99 had said to be working two or three jobs to make ends meet. They stated how it was difficult to live near their work or afford a house. The Nation reported that one in three members of SEIU 99 were either homeless or at risk of being unhoused while working for LAUSD. This massive showing of solidarity surprised many and paid off for the 60,000 workers protesting. The school district reached a tentative agreement with SEIU that included a raise of 30 percent, retroactive pay of $4,000 to $8,000, a $1,000 one-time bonus, and full health care benefits for more classes of workers, including teacher assistants, community representatives, and after-school workers.

This tentative agreement would increase the average salary of SEIU 99 members from $25,000 to $33,000 per year. The strike was not triggered by contract negotiations but by the charge of unfair labor practices. The SEIU 99 alleged harassment and surveillance of union members, and the union filed unfair labor practice charges with the Public Employment Relations Board, which made a strike legally possible. While many publicly supported the strike, many people in powerful positions and major news publications reported the protest as worrisome. A noticeable person was LA28 Olympics Organizing Committee, and the Valley Industry & Commerce Association president, Stuart Waldman, tweeted that UTLA’s “entire strike was theater.” A massive rally was held at LA State Historic Park on the final day of the strike. They were playing music and chanting, echoing throughout the day—the resulting tentative agreement for SEIU 99, a momentous victory for the teachers in LAUSD. The UTLA members showing the full extent of their power and the strength of the union solidarity will give Los Angeles teachers what they’re asking for.