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LAUSD Reaches Deal With Support Staff On Salary Increases, Other Benefits, After Three-Day Strike Ends

A crowd of people dressed warmly, seen from above. In the midst of the crowd, someone has both hands raised high holding a purple sign up that reads "Pay me what you owe me!"
Thousands gather outside the LAUSD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles in support of the SEIU99 and UTLA strike on Tuesday, March 21, 2023.
(Ashley Balderrama
for LAist)
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The union that represents school support staff in the Los Angeles Unified has reached a tentative agreement with the school district to increase salaries by 30% and provide health care to more members.

The deal comes after a three-day strike by bus drivers, cafeteria workers, classroom assistants and other Service Employees International Local 99 members that shut down district schools. The teachers' union, United Teachers Los Angeles, stayed out classrooms in solidarity with the SEIU staff.

L.A. Unified Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias announced the agreement Friday evening at Los Angeles City Hall.

Mayor Karen Bass stepped in Wednesday to break a months-long impasse in negotiations between the district and the union.

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"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 in a statement released on Friday night. "We must continue working together to address our city's high cost of living, to grow opportunity and to support more funding for LA’s public schools, which are the most powerful determinant of our city’s future.

Here’s some of what’s in the deal according to the district and the union:

  • A 30% wage increase for LAUSD staff represented by the union, amounting to an increase of the average annual salary from $25,000 to $33,000k
  • A minimum wage of $22.52 an hour
  • Health insurance for  more members, including family coverage
  • More hours for support staff who serve students with special needs

“I have no doubt that this contract will be seen as a precedent-setting historic contract that elevates the dignity, the humanity of our workforce,” Carvalho said. “[It] respects the needs of our students, but also guarantees the fiscal viability of our district for years to come.”

Arias noted the union’s 30,000 members, many of whom work part-time and make between $17 and $23 per hour, sacrificed pay to strike against alleged harassment during their contract negotiations.

“We cannot continue to rely on people, on the workforce that is basically living in poverty and has to work three jobs to do this work of educating our children,” Arias said.

Union members have to vote on the deal before it’s finalized. There’s a virtual membership meeting scheduled for Monday, March 27.

What we really want is to build a relationship with the district.
— Maxi Arias, executive director, SEIU Local 99

Arias said there are no strikes planned for the foreseeable future. SEIU Local 99’s previous long-term contract ended in 2020; this new deal would mostly cover the intervening years. The union will have to negotiate a new contract with the district in 2024.

“What we really want is to build a relationship with the district,” Arias said. “Be respected as all human beings should be respected.”

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Agreement details

Carvalho said that in the past decade, many contracts for SEIU Local 99 workers included raises of 2.5-3%.

“This is an agreement that's going to make a lot of superintendents very nervous,” Carvalho said.”And that’s a good thing.”

Union and district leadership said the raises in the deal amount to 30%.

About 20% of the raises are retroactive, and broken down over several years.

  • 6% ongoing wage increase retroactive to July 1, 2021
  • 7% ongoing wage increase retroactive to July 1, 2022
  • 7% ongoing wage increase effective July 1, 2023

A $2 per hour increase for all employees effective Jan. 1, 2024 adds about another 10% for the average SEIU member.

Current employees who worked in the district in the 2020-21 school year will also receive a $1,000 bonus, in recognition of the work put in during the initial outbreak of COVID-19.

The contract will also bring health benefits to part-time employees that work at least four hours a day and their families.

LA Unified will also set aside $3 million to fund education and professional development for SEIU Local 99 members.

Superintendent Carvalho did not provide details about the source of the funding for the “historic” contract, but said that it “puts the district in a solvent position.”

LA Unified School Board President Jackie Goldberg said in an interview earlier this week that $2.3 billion designated to combating inflation, high-needs schools, and other programs could be used to pay for raises.

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