Los Angeles school district, education union reach tentative deal following three-day strike
The Los Angeles Unified School District and a union representing bus drivers, custodians and other staff have reached an agreement that will raise their salaries and improve benefits following a three-day strike.
The school district said in a release on Friday that it reached a deal with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99 — which represents the workers — on a new contract.
Max Arias, the executive director of the union, said the district agreed to a series of retroactive pay increases in July and January that will collectively increase pay by about 30 percent.
The release states that the minimum wage for the workers will be set at $22.52 per hour, which outpaces that of Los Angeles and California as a whole, and the district is providing a $1,000 bonus to any employees who were working for the district during the 2020-2021 academic year to recognize the “adverse circumstances” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The school district will also provide health care benefits for employees working at least four hours per day and their qualified dependents and invest $3 million in a new educational and professional development fund for union members, according to the statement.
“When we started negotiating with SEIU, we promised to deliver on three goals,” Superintendent Albert Carvalho said. “We wanted to honor and elevate the dignity of our workforce and correct well-known, decades-long inequities impacting the lowest-wage earners.”
“We wanted to continue supporting critical services for our students. We wanted to protect the financial viability of the District for the long haul,” Carvalho continued. “Promises made, promises delivered.”
The union, which also represents cafeteria workers and special education assistants, praised the deal in a series of tweets, saying that it addresses the main demands it had and sets up “a clear pathway to improving our livelihoods and securing the staffing we need to improve student services.”
Members of United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents teachers, counselors and other staff, also joined picket lines in solidarity with those represented by SEIU Local 99.
Both the district and the union thanked Mayor Karen Bass (D) for stepping in to secure a deal, saying she was crucial in them reaching the agreement.
“Together, we take a step forward for the young people of Los Angeles,” Bass tweeted along with a video of Arias and Carvalho signing the agreement.
The school board and full union must still approve the agreement, but it is expected to pass.
The strike took place from Tuesday to Thursday, canceling classes for 500,000 students before they returned on Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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