A date has been set for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) employees to vote on a strike authorization as contract negotiation talks have stalled.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, who represent nearly 30,000 LAUSD employees, announced that a vote will take place between Jan. 23 and Feb. 10.
“A strike is the last option,” SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias said in a statement. “Workers are hopeful that a fair agreement can be reached through the mediation process, however, there are major issues in LAUSD’s compensation system that are leading to severe staffing shortages for essential student services. Ultimately, without enough staff, students cannot have clean, safe and supportive schools.”
Arias told L.A. Weekly the employee demands were years in the making, as they feel wages and staffing should be increased, and the lack thereof has led to unsafe conditions for the students.
“The main issue from our viewpoint, in schools, is there’s not enough staffing to keep the schools clean,” Arias told L.A. Weekly. “And the working conditions continue to be unsafe in school service. Understaffing contributes to that… and we think it is important to address those issues so that every student in every school has a clean, safe and supportive school.”
The SEIU also noted that many of the workers they represent work fewer than 8-hour days and make an average of $25,000 per year.
Talks between the SEIU and LAUSD halted during the pandemic, but resumed in April 2021. In that time, an impasse was reached, which led to a walkout in protest and talks of a strike.
Now the LAUSD bus drivers, custodial staff, teacher aides, cafeteria workers and after school workers are scheduled to put in their votes and decide if a strike will be the culmination of all its efforts.
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