LAUSD workers reach tentative deal after strike

Proposed labor contract includes increased wages, bonus payments and health benefits.

Cecily Myart-Cruz, United Teachers Los Angeles, UTLA President, with Max Arias, executive director of the Service Employees International SEIU Local 99 union, speak to thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers and SEIU members rallying outside the LAUSD headquarters in Los Angeles Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) reached a tentative labor contract on Friday, March 24, with the Los Angeles Unified School District following the district’s employee and supportive staff three-day strike over compensation rates with the school board.

Approximately 30,000 SEIU Local 99 members will vote April 3-7 on the proposed labor contract, which included a 30% wage increase demanded by the union for its workers, retroactive payments, bonus payments and increased health benefits. The 30% wage increase will bring the LAUSD minimum wage to $22.52 an hour, increasing the average salary of union members from $25,000 a year to $33,000 a year according to SEIU.

The strike is the first major labor disruption for the district since 2019.

The strike began on Tuesday morning, after LAUSD broke the confidentiality code by sharing part of negotiations agreement with L.A. Times, according to City News Service.

With hundreds of campuses closed, over 400,000 students were left without classes.

“This is yet another example of the school district’s continued disrespect of school workers,” said Max Arias, the executive director of SEIU Local 99. “We are ready to strike.”

Service employees and teachers began picketing at 4:30 a.m. at the Van Nuys Bus Yard until 1 p.m. at the LAUSD headquarters in L.A. The strike continued on Wednesday at 4:30 a.m. at the Gardena Bus Yard, followed by another rally at 11 a.m. at the LAUSD Local District offices in Los Angeles. On Thursday, the strike concluded with another 11 a.m. rally at a LAUSD Local District office.

Although the strike had been planned by the union for weeks, its arrival still surprised and greatly affected many parents and district employees.

Jennie Martinez is both a parent of an LAUSD student and a specialized education assistant in the district. She participated in the strike last week, and says despite the struggle she faces as a parent she still has faith in the school.

“I have to rearrange all my life, somebody to see who [is] willing to take care of my child [and] pay for childcare for those three days,” Martinez said. “Hopefully in the long run it will get better. I want to keep furthering my career in LAUSD. I want to become a teacher eventually.”

Another LAUSD parent, Joyce Brown, agreed with the rest of the parents and workers.

“It affected my family because unfortunately I didn’t have anyone to watch my children while the school was on strike,” Brown said. “However, at the same time, due to the reason that they’re on strike, I was supporting their cause.”

Mayor Karen Bass’s office released a statement after the tentative labor contract: “I want to thank SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho for working together with me to put our families first,” Bass said. “As mayor, I have no formal authority over our schools, but that will never stop me when it comes to fighting for our children and their families.”

The tentative labor contract resolves long standing issues of the LAUSD workers. United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents another 30,000 LAUSD educators, wants to use the recent SEIU contract as precedent in hopes to provide a 20% increase in wages for its members, City News Service reported.