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LA Unified files last-ditch legal challenge to stop looming strike and school closures

Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Unified officials are mounting a last-ditch legal challenge to stall or prevent a three-day strike that would shut down classrooms across the nation’s second-largest school district starting on Tuesday.

The district has asked state labor regulators to issue an injunction to halt the strike, alleging that it is illegal. District sources acknowledged that they don’t know if the state Public Employment Relations Board will act on the filing in time to prevent the strike.

The challenge cites the unusual legal basis and timing of the walkout, which would occur before the typical step-by-step bargaining process has been completed.

The strike is being led by Local 99 of Service Employees International Union, which represents about 30,000 bus drivers, teacher aides, campus security aides, special education assistants, custodians, gardeners and cafeteria workers. Leaders of United Teachers Los Angeles have encouraged their members to join the walkout. UTLA represents about 35,000 teachers, nurses, counselors, therapists and librarians.

Each union is on a separate negotiating track with L.A. Unified. Local 99 is further along in the process, having reached the fact-finding stage, according to documents filed with state labor regulators.

Generally, fact-finding would be completed before a strike. In addition, both sides also would have to present their “last, best and final offer.”


But this job action is different.

It is, in effect, a protest by Local 99 in response to alleged illegal acts by L.A. Unified that the union claims have impeded its leadership and members from engaging in lawful union-related activity.

The district denies any wrongdoing. In its filing, the district accuses Local 99 of using unfounded allegations as a pretext when, in fact, the real issue leading to the strike is the district’s unwillingness to meet the union’s demands over wages, benefits and other terms.

The filing also calls for an injunction simply because certain certain Local 99 members are “essential employees” whose absence from work during the strike would “imminently threaten the public health and safety.”


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