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A union representing 30,000 Los Angeles school custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and other support staff will start a three-day strike Tuesday, effectively stopping classes for more than a half million students in the nation’s second-largest school district.

Service Employees International Union Local 99 members will walk off the job after nearly a year of negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Superintendent Alberto Carvalho announced schools would be canceled for students starting Tuesday after last-minute negotiations, which included new raise offers, failed.

As both sides of the picket line blame one another for stalled efforts, all LAUSD school campuses will be closed from Tuesday through Thursday as a result, impacting more than 500,000 students.

List of Demands

Members of the Los Angeles schools’ support workers union said they want: 

• A 30% pay raise, plus an additional $2 an hour over next four years

• Increased employment hours for part-time workers

The latest offers announced by the Los Angeles school district on Monday included: 

• A 23% recurring pay increase, plus a 3% cash-in-hand bonus

• A $20-an-hour minimum wage

• Full health care benefits for those working at least four hours a day.

Teachers stand in solidarity with LA school workers

Teachers will put on a united front with their colleagues with the United Teachers Los Angeles – a union representing about 30,000 teachers – announcing that members will participate in a solidarity strike and honour the picket line.

The strike began at 4 a.m. on Tuesday

Negotiations that might have provided a solution were nonexistent as Local 99, representing more than 30,000 district workers, headed into Tuesday fully planning to launch its strike. United Teachers Los Angeles, which says it represents around 35,000 educators, has said it wouldn’t cross picket lines.

According to NBC News, Local 99 blamed the day’s negotiation failure on the district. Its executive director, Max Arias, said district officials broke an agreement to hold confidential mediation over a potential contract, nixing progress.

The union plans to begin picketing at 4 a.m. Tuesday, continuing the strike for three days.

According to Deadline, Service Employees International Union Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias released the following statement:

On Monday afternoon, SEIU Local 99 had agreed to enter a confidential mediation process with LAUSD to try and address our differences. Unfortunately, LAUSD broke that confidentiality by sharing it with the media before our bargaining team, which makes all decisions, had a chance to discuss how to proceed. This is yet another example of the school district’s continued disrespect of school workers. We are ready to strike.

We want to be clear that we are not in negotiations with LAUSD. We continue to be engaged in the impasse process with the state.

This story is developing.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...