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Newsom silent on LA schools strike after 500,000 kids forced to stay home for second day

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom is staying silent on the Los Angeles school workers strike that shut down public schools for more than 500,000 kids for a second day Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest education system, is closed for a three-day strike after members of the union, SEIU Local 99, failed to reach an agreement with the district Monday following a year of failed negotiations over staffing and wage increases. 

The union’s top priorities, according to its website, include a “pause in educator evaluations during this unprecedented time,” a “fair pay raise,” strengthened safety protocols, and a “robust Continuity of Learning plan with options for educators.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom heads to a press conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Jan. 24, 2023.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom heads to a press conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Jan. 24, 2023. (Dai Sugano/MediaNews Group/East Bay Times via Getty Images)

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Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, who does not have authority over the school district, authorized the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks to offer to-go meals to LAUSD families affected by the school closures.

SEIU Local 99 is a union of 50,000 education workers including cafeteria workers, special education assistants, custodians and bus drivers in K-12 schools, early education centers, homes and community colleges throughout Southern California, according to its website. 

SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias has said workers have been living off “poverty wages” with the average salary at LAUSD at $25,000 a year with employees often working part-time hours. 

Newsom has largely stayed out of the dispute, but he is receiving updates from the union and the district, his office told The New York Times earlier this week.

The governor has yet to address the strike publicly. His office did not respond to Fox News Digital’s inquiries asking what steps the governor might be taking to try to put an end to the strike, or what authority he may hold to address the issue.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 10, 2023.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in Sacramento, Calif., Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas, File)

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Meanwhile, Newsom is struggling to alleviate the burgeoning homelessness crisis in California, which accounts for nearly a third of the homeless population in the country.

The Democratic governor announced last week that his state will spend $30 million to build 1,200 tiny houses across the state this year in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Jose and San Diego.

“We need to focus more energy and precision on addressing encampments,” Newsom said. “There’s no humanity there. People are dying on our watch.”

Despite Newsom signing off on more than $22.3 billion in new spending to address homelessness since taking office, the homeless population in the state has continued to grow at rates far outpacing the rest of the U.S.

Kendall Tietz and the Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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