lausd servicemen close in on possible strike
Los Angeles Unified School District officials said Wednesday they were preparing for a possible strike by cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, special education assistants, and other workers who announced this week that they would cancel their current contract amid stalled labor negotiations.
Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 30,000 LAUSD workers, informed the district Tuesday of the contract cancellation, moving closer to a walkout.
In February, workers authorized the union to call a strike if negotiations failed.
Max Arais, executive director of SEIU Local 99, expressed his dismay over the current situation for workers at LAUSD. “It’s unacceptable for them to be living on poverty wages and threatened if they demand better pay,” he said in a statement. Arais further condemned the inadequate staffing and spoke out against any harassing behavior directed at those who voice their concerns. “We strongly urge LAUSD to take appropriate action to ensure these unfair practices cease,” he continued, “or our members are prepared to take more drastic measures as a form of protest.” Cancellation of the contract is an option they wish to avoid but they feel they must act in order to get their point across; that essential workers must be valued and respected.
“We are disappointed that SEIU is walking away from negotiations with so much on the table,” district officials said Wednesday.
According to the district, this action puts them closer to a strike, which would disrupt instruction and adversely affect the entire system.
Los Angeles Unified officials said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made a “strong offer” to the union. According to the district, the offer included a 5% wage increase retroactive to July 2021, another 5% increase retroactive to July 2022, and another 5% increase effective July 2023, in addition to a 4% bonus in 2022-23 and a 5% bonus in 2023-24.
According to a district statement, “we must exercise fiscal responsibility in order to benefit our students and our workforce.” “The district cannot go bankrupt — our general fund is not a flexible budget reserve.” It is imperative that we work together to provide a high-quality public education to every child in order to prepare them for success in school and in life.”
The affected workers earn an average salary of $25,000 a year and have been working without a contract since June 2020, according to union officials.
In December, the union declared an impasse in negotiations, which led to the appointment of a state mediator.
Union officials have also alleged staffing shortages resulting from an “over-reliance on low-wage, part-time workers.” These shortages include:
- Insufficient teacher assistants, special education assistants, and other instructional support,
- Due to a lack of custodial staff, school campuses are not properly cleaned and disinfected.
- Overburdened campus aides and playground supervisors jeopardized campus safety
- The lack of health care benefits for afterschool workers and community representatives has resulted in limited enrichment, afterschool, and parental engagement programs.
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