School Workers at LAUSD vote overwhelmingly to ratify contract agreement

LOS ANGELES, CA – Thousands of school custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, special education assistants and other members of SEIU Local 99 working in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract with LAUSD that will begin to lift essential workers out of poverty and lead to improved staffing for student services. Voting was held in-person and online from April 3-7 and over 99% voted to approve the new agreement. The LAUSD school board must also vote on the agreement.

The agreement was reached after a three-day unfair practices strike held March 21-23 to protest LAUSD’s harassment and disrespect of workers who had been advocating for improved wages, hours, and staffing levels.

Highlights of the agreement include:

  • A 30% wage increase that will lift the average annual salary from $25,000 to $33,000 for workers providing essential student services.
  • $1000 recognition bonus for workers who worked during the pandemic
  • Increased hours for many workers, including special education assistants who serve the district’s most vulnerable students.
  • Fully paid family health care benefits expanded to thousands of workers, including teachers’ assistants, after-school program workers, and community representatives who run parent outreach centers.

“This contract recognizes the essential work of those who work hard to ensure students can learn in a clean, safe, and supportive environment,” said Max Arias, Executive Director of SEIU Local 99. “It is a major step forward with significant improvements to wages, work hours, and benefits for dedicated education workers who have been left behind for far too long. It will also lead to long-term benefits for student services as improved jobs will allow the district to recruit and retain more workers to help feed students, transport them to school, support them in the classroom, and keep school clean.”

“I’ve been working with LAUSD for 30 years. During that time, I struggled to raise my four children on low wages and part-time hours,” said Areli Larios, a Food Service Worker. “I am so happy with the wage increases we won because they will make a real difference in our lives. My family will be able to do simple things like go out to eat and we’ll be able to think about the future without worrying about how we’ll survive.”

“Increasing the opportunity to work 7-hours with our special needs students will mean we can provide more students with the support they need to learn and thrive in the classroom,” said Fatima Grayson, a Special Education Assistant. “Students learn best when they have consistent support from a familiar assistant and more time with them will mean we can focus on their specific needs.”

SEIU Local 99 represents 50,000 education workers in K-12 schools, community colleges, early care and education and other educational settings including nearly 30,000 food service workers, custodians, special education assistants, teacher assistants, bus drivers and other essential workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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