Los Angeles Unified School District formally approved the contract agreement with the local classified employees union, which will reportedly “begin to lift custodians, food service workers, campus aides and others out of poverty,” including school bus drivers.
As previously reported by School Transportation News, a labor strike of school bus drivers and other support staff took place in March following alleged “unfair practices” related to low wages that are leading to staff shortages. SEIU Local 99, which represents bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodial staff and special education assistants employed by the Los Angeles Unified School District, stated last month that its members intended to walk off the job March 21-23 because of low wages that it said are leading to staff shortages. The union said negotiations reached an impasse, and 96 percent of its members voted to strike, which was the second in the past four years.
Max Arias, SEIU Local 99 executive director, lauded the new agreement. “It will also bring equitable health care benefits to those who support classroom learning, lead after-school programs, and work with parents in our schools,” Arias said in a release on Tuesday. “Improving jobs at LAUSD will ultimately mean increased hiring to improve student services.”
The agreement addresses decade-long pay inequalities, expands healthcare benefits for part-time employees, and invests resources into the district’s workforce. LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho stated via Twitter, “This agreement with SEIU is a historic and precedent-setting equity contract that sought to erase historic wrongs. In memory of my father and his work as a janitor and in recognition of our workforce, I truly appreciate the effort, negotiation and outcome.”
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The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) joined school workers on the strike lines last month, which resulted in all classes being canceled. The district also reached a tentative agreement with the UTLA to significantly increase salaries for teachers across the district. That agreement focuses on reducing class size and increasing mental health and consulting services to better support the needs of students. An LAUSD press release states the agreement with UTLA addresses years of pay inequity and inflation.
“We are grateful for the tremendous solidarity of teachers with United Teachers Los Angeles who joined with school workers on the strike lines,” Arias added. “It was through the courage and sacrifice of frontline workers that we were able to shine a spotlight on the inequities in our school system. We remain united with teachers in our efforts to improve public education in our city.”