Los Angeles, CA – Thousands of cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, special education assistants and other essential school workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) have voted to authorize a strike. No dates for a strike have been set, but the vote allows workers on SEIU Local 99’s bargaining team to call for a strike if necessary. 

SEIU Local 99 members cast votes at hundreds of schools, special education centers, early education centers, bus yards, nutrition centers, and online from January 23 – February 10. Votes were counted on February 11 with a clear and decisive 96% voting in support of taking actions up to and including a strike.

Members of SEIU Local 99 have been negotiating with the district since April, 2022 demanding equitable wage increases, more full-time work, respectful treatment, and increased staffing levels for improved student services. However, LAUSD has not shown significant movement. Last December, SEIU Local 99 declared that negotiations had reached an impasse, prompting a state mediator to oversee negotiations. The first mediation session is scheduled for February 21. 

Throughout the strike vote and during the bargaining process, workers were subjected to surveillance, intimidation, and harassment by the school district. Dozens of unfair labor practice charges were filed with the California Public Employee Relations board to protest LAUSD’s unlawful interference in workers’ right to vote and participate in union activities.

“Workers have sent a clear message to the school district that we demand respect,” said Edna Logan, a custodian at LAUSD and a member of the SEIU Local 99 bargaining team. “During the pandemic we disinfected schools and kept our communities fed. This is a reminder that we’re still essential. LAUSD needs to value our work and respect our rights.”

“After nearly a year of bargaining, LAUSD has shown no effort to truly move essential workers out of poverty and address dire staffing shortages in our schools. Furthermore, throughout the bargaining process and the strike vote, workers have been subjected to  harassment by the school district for speaking out and exercising their rights. It’s this blatant disrespect that is driving workers to take strong action to improve their livelihoods and conditions for students in our schools,” said Max Arias, SEIU Local 99 Executive Director. 

Workers are calling attention to how the district’s overreliance on a low-wage, part-time workforce is impacting local communities and the quality of student services.  The average salary of school workers at LAUSD is $25,000/year and most work part-time hours, making it difficult to retain and recruit sufficient staff for student services. This is leading to serious staffing shortages, including:

  • Insufficient teacher assistants, special education assistants and other instructional support to address learning loss and achievement gaps
  • Substandard cleaning and disinfecting at schools because of lack of custodial staff
  • Jeopardized campus safety due to overloaded campus aides and playground supervisors
  • Limited enrichment, after school and parent engagement programs due to reduced work hours and lack of health care benefits for after school workers and community representatives


SEIU Local 99 is a union of 50,000 education workers in K-12 schools, early education centers and homes, and community colleges throughout Southern California, including 30,000 cafeteria workers, special education assistants, custodians, bus drivers and others providing essential student services at LAUSD schools.