Los Angeles Schools and 30,000 Workers Reach Tentative Deal After Strike
The union representing 30,000 education workers reached a tentative deal with the Los Angeles Unified School District on Friday, following a three-day strike that closed hundreds of campuses and canceled classes for 422,000 students earlier this week.
Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents support workers in the school district, sought a 30 percent pay increase and said that many of its employees made little more than the minimum wage and struggled to afford the cost of living in Southern California. Both the union and the school district announced the deal late Friday afternoon.
The Los Angeles teachers’ union had asked its 35,000 members to walk out in solidarity and to avoid crossing the support workers’ picket lines. All told, that meant as many as 65,000 school employees were part of the work stoppage.
The strike was limited to three days, and schools already had reopened on Friday morning before Local 99 agreed to a new tentative contract. The union said that Los Angeles Unified, the second-largest school district in the nation, had met its key demands.
The deal must still be voted on by the full union.
Local 99 members include gardeners, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and special education assistants. They had been working without a contract since July 1, 2020. The new deal would be retroactive to that date and run through June 30, 2024, according to the school district.
Workers will get a one-time $1,000 raise, the district said, and the minimum wage will be set at $22.52 per hour. A $3 million educational and professional development fund for union members will also be created.
Karen Bass, who became Los Angeles mayor in December, announced the deal on Friday in a news conference at City Hall. She was joined by Max Arias, the executive director of Local 99, and Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified. Ms. Bass said that she had been involved in negotiations throughout the walkout but intentionally kept a low profile.
“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,” Mr. Carvalho said on Twitter. “Promises made, promises delivered.”
Both sides credited Ms. Bass with helping broker a deal.
“The majority of S.E.I.U. 99 workers don’t just work in our schools,” Ms. Bass said at the news conference. “They are L.A.U.S.D. parents as well.
“And today, for too many hard-working people working full time, it’s just too hard to put a roof over their heads and put food on the table. This is about the high cost of living in Los Angeles. Los Angeles, as everybody knows, has become virtually unaffordable.”