A three-day strike in rainy weather led to a pay raise and benefits for school district employees.
By Griffin O'Rourke and Nicholas Orozco, Staff Writers
The LAUSD agreed to union demands on Friday following a three-day strike despite tremendous rainfall that ended with a massive rally at Los Angeles State Historic Park.
Service Employees International Union Local 99 reached an agreement for better pay and benefits.The new deal includes a 30 percent pay increase, additional $2 per hour, part-time benefits and a raise of the minimum wage to $22.52 an hour. A $1,000 bonus was also handed out to employees who worked with the district during 2020-21 when COVID-19 created additional challenges in schools and classrooms. Special education assistants received increased hours and compensation. Those striking included teacher’s assistants, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, special education assistants, gardeners, custodians and maintenance workers. The United Teachers Los Angeles union striked in solidarity with the SEIU.
“We want the district to recognize that the members of this union have been mistreated,”said Arleta High School English teacher Nicole Patin, who is also the UTLA Chair chapter of the school. “They make less money than anyone in the state. They’re primarily women, people of color and are the parents of many of our students that attend LAUSD schools. They make on average $25,000 to $30,000 a year, which is not a livable income.”
The average pay puts them just below the median income for Los Angeles, which is $30,225. Members typically work part-time, six-hour shifts. Low pay is also increasing burnout, leading to staffing shortages. A lack of cleaning custodians can lead to an unhealthy environment on campus. This also affects after-school programs, where there is not enough staff to take care of students.
The union is also demanding updates to their aging facilities. Clean water, environmentally-friendly facilities and modernized technology are some of the infrastructure upgrades being demanded.
The strike lasted from Tuesday to Thursday, forcing the nation’s second largest school district to close thousands of schools. Services across the county opened to house the displaced children. The L.A. Zoo and public libraries sheltered students while food services were distributing lunches.
Monarch Camps at Valley College also offered programs to accommodate students. Activities for the children included crafts, gymnastics, digital board games and rock climbing. The camp, located at Valley’s Community Services Center, provided a safe space for parents looking for an after-school program for their kids.
The camp was up to capacity with about 130 K-12 students, according to site director Michael Heiman.