Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the nation’s second largest school district. A union representing 30,000 school workers is going on a three-day strike which will effectively stop more than half a million students from attending classes, according to CNN.

School custodians, cafeteria workers and bus drivers are among the support staff who belong to Service Employees International Union Local 99. Early this morning, they gathered together, carried signs and started their protest.

The union reported they’re looking for, “equitable wage increases, more full-time work, respectful treatment, and increased staffing levels for improved student services.” With the average workers’ salary being a mere $25,000 a year, they have been facing staff shortages the union said.

The strike is the result of almost a year-long failed negotiation with the LAUSD. Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made the call on Monday to pause classes starting Tuesday.

Currently union members say they are not making a “living wage.” Many members are also parents in the same district, but they cannot afford the same opportunities for their own children as the ones they cater to.

“We live in this weird paradox as workers that help feed children and yet we struggle to feed our own children,” union member Adrian Alverez said. “We help students go to college, yet we don’t have enough money to send our kids to college.”

The union leader Max Arias released a statement saying, “As LAUSD parents and workers, SEIU Local 99 members know a strike will be a sacrifice but the school district has pushed workers to take this action.”

“Families have been sacrificing for far too long on poverty wages. Students have been sacrificing for too long in school environments that are not clean, safe or supportive for all,” Arias said.

The district’s teachers and some parents are in support of what the union is working towards. One mom, Jenna Schwartz, spoke to a CNN affiliate news station and said, “We have some of our most underpaid workers doing some of the most challenging jobs on our campuses. They’ve been negotiating for years, to no avail.”

Another parent lamented that students are being caught in the crossfire. “Ultimately, I feel that they are probably being left behind in a battle between adults.”

There are resources for parents and students to tide them over the next few days such as meal stations and extra hours at care centers.

Superintendent Carvalho said, “We are eagerly awaiting on a counter proposal and we are ready to put another compelling offer on the table to continue the dialogue.”