Los Angeles, CA — School cafeteria workers, custodians, special education assistants and other members of SEIU Local 99 led informational picket lines at hundreds of schools throughout the L.A. Unified School District today and notified the school board that they are canceling their current contract. The actions are to protest LAUSD’s harassment of workers who participated in union activities, including a vote to strike last month. The cancellation of the contract also ends a “no-strike” provision, moving workers one step closer to a possible strike to protest the district’s unlawful practices.
Last month, an overwhelming 96% of workers voted to authorize a strike at LAUSD. During the voting process, workers were subjected to harassment, surveillance, and interrogation about their vote and willingness to strike. SEIU Local 99 has filed dozens of unfair practice charges with the California Public Employment Relations Board to demand an end to the school district’s unlawful activity.
“Workers are fed-up with living on poverty wages – and having their jobs threatened for demanding equitable pay! Workers are fed-up with the short staffing at LAUSD – and being harassed for speaking up,” said Max Arias, SEIU Local 99 Executive Director. “We demand that LAUSD stop the unlawful activity – or workers are ready to take stronger action to protest these unfair practices. Canceling our contract is not a decision we make lightly. But it’s clear that LAUSD does not respect or value the work of essential workers in our schools.”
“I’ve been threatened with losing my job, simply for trying to improve working conditions in our schools,” said Elizabeth Thomas-Parker, Vice President of SEIU Local 99 and a Special Education Assistant at LAUSD. “Working at LAUSD has gotten so hard that after more than 20 years, I am considering leaving my job with this school district. It should not be this way. Dedicated education workers should be respected. We should be valued for our contributions to student learning.”
Workers have been in contract negotiations with LAUSD for nearly a year. Talks broke down in December 2022 and workers declared an impasse. In February, workers voted to authorize a strike. School workers are demanding equitable wage increases, more full-time work, increased staffing, and respectful treatment on the job. In response to workers organizing at their worksites, LAUSD has responded with threats, interrogation, and other unlawful activity.
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.