Cafeteria staff and other service workers at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) announced a three-day strike starting Tuesday after negotiations with the district stalled.
The approximately 30,000 workers, represented by SEIU Local 99, are calling for higher wages, more full-time work and increased staffing levels. The union also claims its members experienced surveillance, intimidation and harassment by the district throughout the bargaining process and strike vote.
“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,” Max Arias, SEIU Local 99’s executive director, said in a statement. “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. Too many workers have been subjected to harassment simply for demanding change. Enough is Enough!”
United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing over 30,000 teachers at LAUSD, also announced that it will strike in solidarity.
According to SEIU Local 99, the average salary of school workers at the district is $25,000 and most work part-time. Along with more full-time hours and better staffing, the union is asking for a 30% wage increase as well as a $2/hour equity wage adjustment for all.
LAUSD says it’s latest offer to the union was a 5% ongoing wage increase for 2022-2023, a 5% ongoing wage increase for 2023-2024, a 4% one-time bonus for 2022-2023 and a 5% one-time bonus for 2023-2024. The district has also offered additional pay increases for nurses, special education teachers and other employees, as well as classroom size reductions and increased staffing in high-need schools.
“SEIU is simply refusing to negotiate. With a historic offer on the table that was created in direct response to SEIU’s demands, and with additional resources still to be negotiated, it is deeply surprising and disappointing that there is an unwillingness to do so,” LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a statement.
Carvalho implored union members to return to the negotiation table in an effort to reach an agreement and avoid a strike.
“With both time and resources to be allocated in reaching an agreement, we are calling on them to come to the table for staff and students, right now,” he said. “We need to reach a resolution that honors the work of our dedicated employees, while respecting the rights our children have to a quality education, meals and access to enriching school activities.”