Over 30,000 teachers went on strike in Los Angeles County today. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) serves 640,000 students and is the second biggest school district in the country. The last time Los Angeles teachers went on strike was 1989.
The protest follows a string of successful teacher strikes across the country. Teachers in states like West Virginia and Oklahoma — who are among the lowest paid educators in the country — have organized and participated in strikes in order to advocate for higher wages and improved conditions for students.
Prior to negotiations, the average annual mean wage for a teacher was $45,240 in West Virginia and $42,460 in Oklahoma. After going on strike, teachers in both of these states received pay increases.
"What you're seeing with unions is real enthusiasm and a belief that you can actually be successful," Robert Bruno, professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois tells the Associated Press. "The educational sector is rife with deep grievance and frustration, but there's now a sense that you can actually win."
The annual mean wage for teachers in California is $74,940 and $75,000 in the LAUSD, and while teacher pay is a significant issue for protesting educators, the current teachers strike in Los Angeles is also about class size.