Parents, Here's What to Do Now That LAUSD Schools are Closing for a Strike

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.

Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents about 30,000 teachers’ aides, special education assistants, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, and other support staff, walked out amid stalled contract talks.

Teachers joined rain-soaked picket lines early Tuesday as workers demanded better wages and increased staffing before heading to a huge rally outside the district’s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Some held signs that read “We keep schools safe, Respect Us!” The district has more than 500,000 students from Los Angeles and all or part of 25 other cities and unincorporated county areas. Nearly three-quarters are Latino.

Bus driver Mike Cervantes began his day of protest with a 4 a.m. rally at a bus yard before joining a demonstration at a school and then heading downtown.

“I’m going to be here, rain or shine,” he said. “This is historic.”

Lydia Vasquez searched for her husband in the crowd as demonstrators chanted “we are the future.” He works as a school custodian and she couldn’t remember the last time he got a raise. “We really need to be out here having our voices heard,” she said.

Leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing 35,000 educators, counselors, and other staff, earlier pledged solidarity with the strikers.

“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 told a news conference.

Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho accused the union of refusing to negotiate and said that he was prepared to meet at any time day or night.

“We remain ready to return to negotiations with SEIU Local 99 so we can provide an equitable contract to our hardworking employees and get our students back in classrooms,” the superintendent said in a statement Tuesday.

Liev Kaplan, 6, marched with his mom, Tiffany, an adaptive physical education teacher. “We want to fight for everyone so they can have fair pay,” the first-grader said. His dad teaches math. “We are an education family,” Tiffany Kaplan said. “But we can’t educate if the kids are not fed if they’re not feeling safe. We have to support our support staff.”

During the strike, about 150 of the district’s more than 1,000 schools remained open with adult supervision but no instruction, to give students somewhere to go. Dozens of libraries and parks, plus some “grab and go” spots for students to get lunches also planned to be open to kids to lessen the strain on parents now scrambling to find care.

“I will make sure the wellbeing of L.A. students always comes first as I continue to work with all parties to reach an agreement to reopen the schools and guarantee fair treatment of all LAUSD workers,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement.

Jerilyn Lopez Mendoza said she supports the walkout because she wants staff to be compensated fairly, but she worried how missing three days of school might affect her 15-year-old daughter, who is autistic. For the sophomore, it means three days away from her social circle and the routine that school provides, her mom said.

“I’m obviously in favor of the strike and want to be supportive of the workers and their requests for fair pay and working conditions, but it also does affect my family negatively,” Lopez Mendoza said.

Workers, meanwhile, said striking was their only remaining option.

Instructional aide Marlee Ostrow, who planned to join picket lines, said she’s long overdue for a raise. The 67-year-old was hired two decades ago at $11.75 an hour, and today she makes about $16. That isn’t enough to keep pace with inflation and rising housing prices, she said, and meanwhile, her duties have expanded from two classrooms to five.

Ostrow blames the district’s low wages for job vacancies that have piled up in recent years.

“There’s not even anybody applying because you can make more money starting at Burger King,” she said. “A lot of people really want to help kids, and they shouldn’t be penalized for wanting that to be their life’s work.”

The union says district support staffers earn, on average, about $25,000 per year and many live in poverty because of low pay or limited work hours while struggling with inflation and the high cost of housing in Los Angeles County. The union is asking for a 30% raise. Teachers want a 20% pay hike over two years.

The district has offered a cumulative 23% raise, starting with 2% retroactive as of the 2020-21 school year and ending with 5% in 2024-25. The package would also include a one-time 3% bonus for those who have been on the job for more than a year, along with more full-time positions and an expansion of healthcare benefits.

“This offer addresses the needs and concerns of the union, while also remaining fiscally responsible and keeping the District in a financially stable position,” Carvalho’s statement said.

The White House said President Joe Biden supports workers’ right to strike and the collective bargaining process.

“We urge both sides to work in good faith toward a mutually acceptable solution so that there can be a quick resolution and the kids, and school employees, can get back to where they want to be, which is in school, especially the kids,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday.

The strike has wide support among union members.

SEIU members have been working without a contract since June 2020, while the contract for teachers expired in June 2022. The unions decided last week to stop accepting extensions to their contracts.

Teachers waged a six-day strike in 2019 over pay and contract issues but schools remained open.

Rep. Adam Schiff offered his support to tens of thousands of service workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District who have walked off the job, saying they should not be earning "poverty" wages.

LAUSD shut down all of its schools Tuesday due to the strike as about 30,000 workers represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 99 -- including cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, special education assistants, and others -- started picketing at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.

L.A. teachers have joined the strike in solidarity.

Schiff spoke at a rally in Koreatown alongside union officials Tuesday and said the workers should be paid a "decent wage."


Los Angeles Unified schools were closed Tuesday as a union representing thousands of bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and other employees started a three-day strike.

"The median income of our bus drivers and our cafeteria workers and our school aides is $25,000 a year," he said. "Who can live on $25,000 a year? Those are poverty wages."

The congressman said the workers' low wages puts them at risk of homelessness.

"It cost about $1,700 to rent a one-bedroom apartment," Schiff said. "That means for the people that we're talking about, they have to spend 85% of their income just to keep a roof over their heads."

As of Tuesday morning, there were no publicly announced plans for any negotiating sessions between the district and union, likely meaning the strike will continue for the anticipated three days.

More than half a million families across Los Angeles were bracing for school closures as LAUSD union workers prepared to go on a three-day strike.

Last-minute efforts were being made by LAUSD officials to halt the strike and negotiate, but the strike was not averted.

"All schools across LAUSD will be closed," LAUSD Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho said in a late news conference Monday night.

The California Public Employment Relations Board has rejected LAUSD’s request for an injunction claiming a strike by SEIU Local 99 members was unlawful, however, the board's decision says they do have a right to protest and continue moving forward.

The LAUSD has a family hotline that has information and resources to help families prepare for at-home learning and school updates.

"We continue to send messages to the leadership of the union that we are willing to negotiate 24/7, both day and night," said LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, in an interview with NBC4.


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The district is sending home instructional packets, supplies, and technological devices for students to use. They will also be offering student supervision at selected schools. Student supervision will be offered from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at select elementary, middle, and high schools.

Scroll down for resources being offered to LAUSD students and parents during the strike.

Grab-and-Go Meals

They will also be offering six grab-and-go meals that can be picked up Tuesday to help cover breakfast and lunch over three days.

Meals will be distributed Tuesday beginning at 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.

Extended Hours for Recreation Programs

Sixteen LA County parks will be extending their "Every Body Plays Program" and operating hours at two nature centers Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

They will serve students during the possible LAUSD strike and provide free meals.

List of 16 parks with adjusted schedules:

  • Belvedere Park (4914 E. Cesar Chavez Ave. Los Angeles, CA 9002)
  • City Terrace Park (1126 N. Hazard Ave, E. Los Angeles, CA 90063)
  • Obregon Park (4021 E. First St. Los Angeles, CA 90063)
  • Saybrook Park (6250 East Northside Dr. East Los Angeles, CA 90022)
  • Ruben Salazar Park (3864 Whittier Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90023)
  • Athens Park (12603 S. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90061)
  • Bethune Park (1244 E. 61st St. Los Angeles, CA 9000)
  • Helen Keller Park (1045 W. 126th St Los Angeles, CA 90044)
  • Jesse Owens Park (9651 S. Western Ave Los Angeles, CA 90047)
  • Earvin Magic Johnson Park (905 E. El Segundo Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90059)
  • Roosevelt Park (7600 Graham Ave. Los Angeles CA 90001)
  • Ted Watkins Park (1335 E. 103rd St. Los Angeles, CA 90002)
  • Leon H Washington Park (8908 S. Maie Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90002)
  • Victoria Park (419 Martin Luther King Jr. St. Carson, CA 90746)
  • El Cariso Park (13100 Hubbard St. Sylmar, CA 91342)
  • Crescenta Valley Park (3901 Dunsmore Ave. Glendale, CA 91214)

These nature centers also are offering extended hours.

  • Deane Dana Friendship Park and Nature Center (1805 W. 9th St. San Pedro, CA 90732)
  • Stoneview Nature Center (5950 Stoneview Dr. Culver City, CA 90232)

Free Admission for LAUSD Students

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens will offer free admission for currently enrolled K-12 students in the event that schools close. 

Students and chaperones also receive free admission at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park and the La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park.

Libraries across LA County are also stepping in and offering free programs for students as well as meals.

Do you have a car fan in the family? The Petersen Museum, one of the world's foremost automotive institutions, is offering free general admission to all LAUSD students under 17 Tuesday through Thursday. Tickets must be picked up on-site at the ticket counter.

One of the teacher's unions, UTLA which represents about 30,000 teachers is standing in solidarity with SEIU which represents about 30,000 cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and other district staff. Both groups are asking for better wages, benefits, hours for part-time employees, and improved maintenance on campuses.

The district says they are offering 5% wage increases over the next few years plus bonuses.

The union has announced multiple events throughout the three days which include multiple rallies and news conferences.


  • 4:30 a.m. picket lines at Van Nuys Bus Yard, 16200 Roscoe Blvd.
  • 7 a.m. news conference at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, 701 S. Catalina St., Los Angeles;
  • 1 p.m. rally at LAUSD Headquarters, 333 South Beaudry Ave., Los Angeles.


  • 4:30 a.m. picket lines at Gardena Bus Yard, 18421 S. Hoover St.;
  • 7 a.m. news conference and picketing at Polytechnic High School, 12431 Roscoe Blvd., Sun Valley;
  • 11 a.m. rally at LAUSD Local District Office, 2151 N. Soto St., Los Angeles.


  • 4:30 a.m. picket lines at BD Bus Yard 774 E. 17th St., Los Angeles;
  • 7 a.m. news conference and picket lines at Banneker Career Transition Center, 14024 San Pedro St., Los Angeles;
  • 1 p.m. rally at the location to be determined.

City News Service contributed to this reporting.

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