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LAUSD employees reach temporary agreement: salary increase and health benefits

LAUSD employees reach temporary agreement
LAUSD employees reach temporary agreement
Khushbu Kumari

Mayor Karen Bass was key in negotiations talks. LAUSD employees reach temporary agreement

By mediated by Mayor Karen Bass, representatives of 30,000 public school workers and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) reached an agreement that increases employee pay and provides health benefits without jeopardizing district finances at risk, both sides announced.

“We have reached an agreement with an unprecedented salary increase in Los Angeles,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in remarks he chose to deliver in Spanish.

They agreed to “not only a multi-year salary increase, but also an expansion of health insurance that workers deserve, more working hours,” the official added.

Alonging health services for workers, the superintendent said that “the guarantee of access to a hospital, to a doctor, is a human right and we included this provision in this contract, which is historic, because in the last ten years the average salary increase has never exceeded three percent.”< /p>

The agreed increase of up to 20 percent for workers who earned less is continuous each year and retroactive to 2021.

Includes increases of six percent retroactive to July 1, 2021, a wage increase a continuous 7 percent increase retroactive to July 1, 2022 and a continuous 7 percent wage increase beginning July 1, 2023. Additionally, workers will have another increase of $2 per hour of work beginning January 1, 2024 .

The contract will have to be renegotiated in 2024. Workers include school bus drivers, food preparers and cafeteria attendants, campus custodial staff and special education aides, among others.

The superintendent emphasized that a benefit to the school district is that “this contract does not put LAUSD's finances at risk.”

Both Carvalho and Max Arias, the president of the Service Employees International Union (SEUI) Local 99 that he represented agreed, in their respective versions, that the agreement reached will inspire other school districts in California and across the country.

LAUSD is the second largest in the country, after New York, and during the three-day strike to push for the contract, some 420,000 students were left without classes, according to figures from both parties.< /p>

Without declaring they were joining the strike, 35,000 teachers, psychologists and student advisors joined in solidarity.

Max Arias chose to present himself as a Salvadoran immigrant by making statements in Spanish.

The union leader addressed his message first “to the parents and our students, who stood shoulder to shoulder with us” during nine months of negotiations that stalled last December and then in the three days of strike, days in which mostly in the rain.

Arias said the contract is also historic for the union, because “our members took action to expose the inequality that exists in our society and proposed a solution.”

The leader declared that through the agreement reached “the salary they now have will be increased by a third; It's significant, but we're not where we need to be yet.”

The contract increases employee wages from $17 to $22.52 per hour, and to $24.52 as of January 1, 2024, plus a $1,000 bonus for each of the union members.

According to union sources, the average wage for workers goes from about $25,000 to just over $33,000 a year. The union's goal in going on strike was to bring that wage to at least the poverty level set by Los Angeles County, which is $39,700 per year for a family of four.

However, the The agreed salary will allow the school district “to hire more people, so they can support students with more adult presence in schools,” Arias said.

The leader said before the strike that the low wages offered by the district were so unattractive that it was difficult to get more workers and those who were active were only about 50 percent of those needed, so what the employees each ended up doing was the work of two people.

But the school district also agreed to invest $3 million in an Education and Career Development Fund for members of SEIU Local 99.

The district said in a statement that “this agreement addresses historic pay inequities, creates a massive expansion of health care benefits for part-time employees, invests considerable resources in professional development of the workforce, all while maintaining financial stability of the District.”

The union began the three-day strike early Tuesday morning in heavy rain. Mayor Bass joined talks with both parties Wednesday afternoon, as reported by the district but without providing details; On Thursday the mayor continued the trilateral dialogue.

Although the three-day strike ended without reaching an agreement, Mayor Bass held meetings with both parties.

Both Superintendent Carvalho and union leader Arias acknowledged that Bass's work was key to continue the negotiations until they reached the agreement that both parties call historic. However, until Friday night it was unknown what exactly the mayor's participation consisted of.

Through a statement the mayor said: “I want to thank SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias and Superintendent Alberto Carvalho for working with me to put our families first. We must continue to work together to address our city's high cost of living, increase opportunity, and support more funding for Los Angeles public schools, which are the most powerful determinant of our city's future”

“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, Bass finished.

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