LA schools, union reach deal after three-day strike

LA schools, union reach deal after three-day strike

LOS ANGELES - One day after a three-day strike that closed schools, the Los Angeles school district and a service workers union reached an agreement that the superintendent called historic. The Service Employees International Union Local 99 said the multiyear agreement amounts to a 30% wage increase, which is what the union had demanded.

The union, representing more than 30,000 workers at the LAUSD, was on strike for three days this week, the stoppage ended Thursday and schools were reopened Friday. Teachers were not allowed to cross the picket line.

Schools were closed across the district, the second-largest in the nation, with around 420,000 students.

Karen Bass said housing prices, as well as decades of underinvestment in schools made the situation impossible for many school workers.

This is about the high cost of living in Los Angeles, Mayor Karen Bass said at a news conference Friday. Los Angeles has become virtually unaffordable, as everyone knows. Max Arias, executive director of SEIU Local 99, said he hoped the agreement would set new standards across California.

We can't continue to depend on people, because of the workforce that is basically living in poverty and has to work three jobs to educate our children, Arias said.

The agreement calls for a 6% wage increase retroactive to 2021, a 7% increase retroactive to 2022, a 7% increase effective on July 1 and a $2 an-hour raise for all employees starting in 2024, according to the district.

It would raise the minimum wage to $22.52 an hour, and include a $1,000 bonus for all workers who were with the district in the 2020 -- 21 school year, among other benefits.

The wage increase percentages add up to 20%, but Carvalho said there are other elements of the proposed deal, like the bonus and $2 an-hour raise.

Arias said that a $2 increase is equivalent to about 10% of their wages on average because of the low wages of union members. The union said it was demanding 30% plus $2 an hour.

The union says it will increase the average annual salary from $25,000 to $33,000 and increase health care benefits.

The minimum wage will allow the district to hire people and ease understaffing issues, according to Arias.

The union will be back negotiating a contract in 2024, and there are still some unresolved issues, Arias said, but another strike would be a last resort.

He said there was no strike planned for any foreseeable future.