Statement from Max Arias, SEIU Local 99 Executive Director:
“As education workers, we know students learn best when they are on campus. That is why SEIU Local 99 supports and encourages vaccination for our entire school community. The vaccine has proven to be the most powerful protection against COVID-19 and the pathway to safely and fully re-opening our schools – and keeping them open.
We estimate that vaccination rates among SEIU Local 99 members, including custodians, food service workers, and bus drivers, are currently at about 70%. We are working to ensure that all members have information and access to receive the vaccine and document their proof of vaccination with the school district. Even though we are working diligently to communicate about the importance of getting vaccinated, we believe the October 15, 2021 deadline does not give enough time for thousands of workers to receive the vaccine. We are urging the district to move the deadline for school workers to be fully vaccinated to October 31, 2021 to give employees the time to complete the vaccination process.
Under the current vaccination timeline, we are headed towards a cliff that will have a dire impact on students who rely on the essential services provided by SEIU Local 99 members and thousands of working families employed by the district, a majority of them in our Black and Brown communities. There is still time to work together to avert this crisis.
We are committed to the health and wellbeing of all students as exemplified by the thousands of SEIU Local 99 members that, at great risk, worked in person during the pandemic to maintain schools and ensure students had access to meals, testing and vaccination. But we need to ensure that there is a fair and balanced approach to how we achieve our goal of 100% vaccination at schools.”
SEIU Local 99 represents nearly 50,000 education workers in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino Counties, including 28,000 food service workers, custodians, special education assistants, bus drivers and other essential workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District.