State Insurance Commissioner Candidate Assemblyman Hector De La Torre “Walks a Day in the Shoes” of school cafeteria worker


Terry Carter, Spokesperson
213-700-5617 |

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Los Angeles Unified School District classified employees, including Murchison Elementary School cafeteria worker Gamaliel Andrade, want to make sure State Insurance Commissioner candidate Assemblyman Hector De La Torre understands the importance of their contribution to good public schools. The best way was to let him roll up his sleeves and see firsthand, working a shift with Gamaliel preparing lunches, serving children, and cleaning the kitchen.

“We were offering a healthy salad bar three days a week,” says Gamaliel. “It was really popular. But since we’ve lost two workers in the cafeteria, we can no longer offer it. The new salad bar equipment we bought last year has just been sitting.” Also due to the staff cuts, there are now only two entrée choices each day, instead of the three or four they used to offer. “We have to anticipate which is going to be the popular item. Sometimes we run out of what the kids want.”

The State Insurance Commissioner helps regulate the insurance industry. The threat of District budget shortfalls is especially frightening for cafeteria workers like Gamaliel who just won health coverage in their contract a couple years ago. “We’re literally on the front lines of a healthy school,” says Gamaliel. “I hope Assembly Member De la Torre gains a greater understanding of how essential good health benefits are for the cafeteria workers who prepare and serve food to thousands of students every day.”

Gamaliel and other Los Angeles Unified School District cafeteria workers are also asking all who run for public office to support better education funding, including funding for good school food that children need to be successful—and the good jobs necessary to provide that food. Massive state budget cuts have forced the Los Angeles Unified School District to eliminate nearly 200 cafeteria workers over the past two years. The Governor’s recent budget proposal cuts nearly $2.5 billion more from our schools, which could force further District cuts.

“I started my career as a middle school teacher in South Los Angeles and that experience reinforced my respect and admiration for all school employees,” says De La Torre. “I was impressed by the dedication and the professionalism that Gamaliel brings to his job, and by his commitment to improving workers’ quality of life through union activism. He and his co-workers make it possible for students to learn in a healthy and safe environment.”

This is part of a series of “Walk a Day in My Shoes” events inviting candidates to learn firsthand the impact of budget cuts on student services and classified employees. Candidates must participate in a “Walk a Day in My Shoes” event to be considered for endorsement by workers represented by SEIU.

SEIU Local 99 is a union of more than 43,000 dedicated education workers who guide our children from preschool and kindergarten, through grade school, high school, and at community colleges. We are teachers, paraeducators, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, first responders, and others working in schools, colleges, and administrative offices throughout Southern California. We are part of SEIU International, the fastest-growing union in North America with 2.1 million members.

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