Service Employees International Union Local 99 staged a three-day walkout in Los Angeles last week after negotiations failed. SEIU, which represents about 30,000 cafeteria workers, bus drivers, special education assistants, etc. called for a strike if their demands were not met by the Los Angeles Unified School District. And the United Teachers of Los Angeles decided to ditch school, too, in what was deemed a “sympathy strike.” The unions’ action forced every public school in LA to shut down from March 21 to March 23.
It all played out in the usual way. The unions huffed and puffed, accused management of withholding a rightful pay increase, told lies and half-truths, kids’ education was disrupted, and media complicity was bountiful, while the LAUSD superintendent asserted that the district could not afford to accede to the unions’ demands.
The rhetoric was straight from the Unionese handbook. “These are the co-workers that are the lowest-paid workers in our schools and we cannot stand idly by as we consistently see them disrespected and mistreated by this district,” UTLA president Cecily Myart-Cruz insisted during a news conference.
After shutting down for three days, the schools reopened on Friday March 24 — and voila! A deal was reached the same day — and the union wound up getting almost all of what it wanted.
But while school district honchos and unionistas were jubilant, the kids of Los Angeles suffered more damage as pawns in the adult arena. Three days of school were eliminated with no plan in place to make up for the lost time.
“Lost time” is not new for LA; UTLA forced a mass shutdown of LA schools for more than a year during the Covid hysteria — and students were neglected during that time. The union contract stipulates that the professional workday for a full-time, regular employee “requires no fewer than eight hours of on-site and off-site work.” Yet during the shutdown, then-UTLA boss Alex Caputo-Pearl engineered a deal that required teachers to provide instruction and student support for just four hours per day — and also to “host three office hours for students” every week. So instead of a forty-hour work week, teachers in LA only had to be available for twenty-three hours. Additionally, teachers could create their own work schedules “and were not required to teach classes using live video conferencing platforms.”
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