L.A. schools would close if union workers go on massive three-day strike, Supt. Carvalho says

L.A. schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho speaks from behind a podium.
L.A. schools Supt. Alberto Carvalho, center, announced Monday night that public schools would probably close in the event of a three-day joint strike by the district’s two largest unions. Standing behind Carvalho, wearing a mask, is Board of Education President Jackie Goldberg in this photo from February.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles public schools would probably shut down in the event of a planned three-day, simultaneous strike by unions representing 65,000 workers, including teachers and support staff, as the walkout would be too much to overcome and student safety could not be ensured in the nation’s second-largest school district, Supt. Alberto Carvalho announced Monday night.

“If this strike does occur, despite our best efforts to avoid it, due to the anticipated lack of both teachers and school staff, it is likely we would have to close schools — without virtual education — until the strike ends,” Carvalho said in an email to families. “We would simply have no way of ensuring a safe and secure environment where teaching can take place. We will give you as much advance notice as possible, but we encourage you to begin discussions with your employer, child care providers and others now.”

In a separate email to employees he conveyed much the same message, adding that preparations for out-of-school support and learning would be made.


“We are making every effort to provide students with resources for learning, social emotional well-being and nourishment in the event of a strike.”

The strike plans by Local 99 of service employees and United Teachers Los Angeles come in response to what they say are stalled negotiations.

March 11, 2023

The intended strike dates will be announced during a Wednesday rally at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles. If it happens, the walkout will be led by Local 99 of Service Employees International, which represents about 30,000 workers, including bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria and other food service workers, campus security aides, teaching assistants and aides for students with disabilities.

United Teachers Los Angeles, which also is in contract talks, has advised its members that they should walk out in solidarity with Local 99 to ratchet up pressure on the district.

Local 99 has described the strike as an unfair labor practice charge walkout in protest of alleged illegal actions by L.A. Unified during the negotiations process. Such strikes typically last for a fixed duration and can be staged without going through all the steps of bargaining that typically precede an open-ended strike, according to the unions.

L.A. Unified officials have denied wrongdoing.

Leaders of Local 99 recently declared an impasse in bargaining and are moving through the mediation and fact-finding process. The union, which has yet to settle wage issues dating to the 2020-21 school year, is seeking a 30% increase for all members, with an additional boost for the lowest-wage workers.

The 35,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles include teachers, counselors, therapists, nurses and librarians. UTLA formally terminated its expired contract Friday, giving its members leeway to join the Local 99 strike, according to the union.


The teachers union is seeking a 20% raise over two years, starting with 10% for the current school year. The union bargaining platform is extensive, covering a range of workplace and social-justice issues, including a commitment to extra resources for Black students and affordable housing for low-income families.

The overwhelming strike authorization vote by members of Local 99 of SEIU is intended to put pressure on L.A. Unified to reach a contract settlement.

Feb. 12, 2023

The unions have pointed to the district’s record multibillion-dollar reserves, recent inflation and the high cost of living in Southern California in support of their demands. The district has countered that its offers are generous and that much of the surplus is one-time funding that cannot be committed to ongoing expenses.

Until the announcement, it wasn’t clear whether the district would try to keep campuses and classes in operation with a combination of supervisors, workers in other unions and members of the striking unions willing to cross picket lines.

Unions not involved in the strike would include those representing clerical workers, library assistants, school police and administrators.

A six-day strike in 2019 involved only the teachers union. Campuses remained open and safe for students, although little instruction occurred and attendance was low.