Los Angeles Schools and 30,000 Workers Reach Tentative Deal After Strike
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, which represents 30,000 support workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), reached a tentative deal with LAUSD after a three-day strike that closed hundreds of campuses and canceled classes for 422,000 students. The strike included workers such as gardeners, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and special education assistants who were joined by the Los Angeles teachers’ union, which is currently negotiating its own contract. The tentative deal met the workers’ demands, including a 30 percent pay increase, and the union members will vote on the contract soon
The Strike and the Key Demands
The three-day strike led by the SEIU Local 99 of 30,000 education workers in LAUSD resulted from their demand for better pay and working conditions. Many of the support workers made little more than the minimum wage and had to work two or three jobs to make ends meet in high-cost Southern California
LAUSD and SEIU Local 99 reached a tentative deal, which includes a 30 percent pay increase and other benefits. The minimum wage will be set at $22.52 per hour, and workers employed as of June 30, 2021, will receive a one-time $1,000 bonus. A $3 million educational and professional development fund for union members will also be created.
Impact on the School District
The deal with SEIU Local 99 could present a financial challenge for LAUSD because, when one union negotiates favorable terms, the rest typically demand them. Teachers, who make up the lion’s share of the district payroll, are expected to take the SEIU deal into consideration in their contract negotiations. The teachers stood in solidarity with the SEIU employees, refusing to cross picket lines.
Mayor Bass’s Role in the Deal
Mayor Karen Bass helped broker the deal between LAUSD and SEIU Local 99. She has long been known for her ability to bridge differences through quiet, back-channel conversations. Elected with the support of SEIU, she was a natural go-between, even though mayors in Los Angeles have little power over the schools beyond the bully pulpit.
The Workers’ Struggle
The support workers’ positions were only part-time, which means they had to seek second or third jobs to pay their bills. The tentative deal would provide for additional hours of employment, as well as health benefits for part-time workers. Many of the workers’ salaries would increase by 15 percent upon ratification, and after Jan. 1, their salaries would be about 30 percent higher than they were on Tuesday when the strike began.
The tentative deal between LAUSD and SEIU Local 99 will improve the lives of thousands of support workers in LAUSD. The workers will receive a 30 percent pay increase, a $1,000 bonus, and additional hours of employment. The deal could present a financial challenge for the school district, but it is a step toward better pay and working conditions for all LAUSD employees. Mayor Bass played a crucial role in brokering the deal, and her ability to bridge differences helped resolve the strike.
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