L.A. Schools Reach Tentative Union Deal

Los Angeles public school support staff, teachers, and supporters rally Los Angeles Historic Park during the final day of a three-day strike against the LAUSD in Los Angeles, on March 21, 2023. | Image by Ringo Chiu/Shutterstock

Following a three-day strike by support staff at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), a tentative agreement was reached between the district and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on Friday.

The work stoppage began on Tuesday and lasted through Thursday, with teachers observing the picket line, effectively shutting down school for those three days in the second-biggest school system in the country.

“I want to appreciate the 30,000 members that sacrificed three days of work, despite low income, to raise the issue to society, that we as a society need to do better for all workers, all working people, for everyone,” said SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias, per the Los Angeles Times.

The union had been trying to negotiate a contract with LAUSD that included a 30% salary increase for all members, an additional $2 an hour for the least-compensated workers, and expanded benefits, claiming that the cost of living in Los Angeles was putting a serious squeeze on its members’ finances. The average annual income for LAUSD support staff is currently $25,000.

According to SEIU Local 99’s website, the tentative deal includes a 30% pay increase, retroactive payments of between $4,000 and $8,000 in taxpayer money based on job classification and years on the job, a $1,000 bonus for employees who worked the 2020-2021 school year, a guarantee of 7 hours of work for special education assistants, and fully paid health care coverage for some job classifications.

The deal was announced on Friday, March 24, by LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who tweeted:

“When we started negotiating with SEIU, we promised to honor the dignity of our workforce, correct inequities impacting the lowest-wage earners, continue supporting critical student services and protect the District’s financial viability. Promises made, promises delivered.”

While the strike only lasted three days, it resulted in tens of thousands of households scrambling to make childcare arrangements, with some blaming the district for the work stoppage.

“It’s really frustrating that the one thing that was supposed to be dependable is not. And it’s not because the workers are striking, but it’s because LAUSD would rather make time to find volunteers and make plans for our kids not to be in school than just meet the needs of the people that they’ve employed,” said LAUSD parent Sea Krob, speaking with CNN.

Still, the California Public Employment Relations Board may move to sanction the union because it allegedly walked out of talks with the district and went on strike before completing the legally-outlined negotiation process.

“[I]nnocent children and their families [have] been held hostage and suffered terribly the last three days,” said LAUSD’s outside counsel, Ellen Wu, per the Los Angeles Times, adding that “[SEIU] put LAUSD in an impossible situation.”

“If this violation has no consequences or remedies, then there is no negotiation process to follow in the future for any union,” Wu added.

A request for comment was sent to SEIU Local 99 by The Dallas Express, asking whether union officials believed that rank-and-file workers would approve of the deal, but no response was received by press time.

The Dallas Express additionally reached out to LAUSD and asked what effect such a steep raise in pay and benefits would have on local taxpayers and the school system’s operating budget. Britt Vaughan, an LAUSD public information officer, responded, “We don’t have any further information beyond what we’ve already posted on LAUSD.net and on social media at @lausdsup last week.”

Teachers and support staff at the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) have also voiced their grievances at meetings of the district’s Board of Trustees.

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, DISD teacher Elizabeth Farris railed against the district and its elected leadership in late January, claiming DISD had an “inequitable, unethical compensation system” and an “absence of teacher’s voices [in] policy-making within the district.”

The issue of workplace safety was also brought up at the meeting following the violent death of a teaching assistant, apparently at the hands of a student with special needs. The woman’s surviving family is currently suing DISD for wrongful death.

Furthermore, a poll conducted by The Dallas Express last September found that just shy of a majority of respondents believed that the district’s poor academic outcomes were a result of “mismanagement.”

Support our non-profit journalism

1 Comment

  1. Daniel

    There’s the inequity language. They all want more to deliver less


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *