30,000 education workers in Los Angeles, organized with the Service Employees International Union Local 99, just won big after going on a three-day strike last week. They were joined in their action by 35,000 Los Angeles teachers in United Teachers Los Angeles who went on strike in solidarity with education workers. Under a tentative agreement with LAUSD, workers won the 30% raise they had been demanding, as well as a bonus, retroactive pay, an increase in minimum wage, increased work hours, and elevating the average salary from USD 25,000 to USD 33,000.
Education workers had been undergoing contract negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District, which was refusing to raise workers’ poverty wages despite sitting on USD 5 billion in reserves. As UTLA teacher Eduardo Vargas told Peoples Dispatch on the first day of the solidarity strike, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho gave himself a 26% raise in 2021, but wasn’t budging on teachers’ demands for a 20% raise and education workers’ demands of a 30% raise.
SEIU 99 education workers make on average USD 25,000 per year, while Carvalho makes USD 440,000, a salary greater than the president of the United States. While LAUSD is sitting on USD 5 billion in reserves, one in three SEIU 99 workers reports being either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Unsurprising, considering the poverty wages of education workers and the fact that the average cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is over USD 2,800 per month (33,600 per year). Nearly one in four SEIU 99 workers also recently reported not having enough to eat.
Workers are now set to vote on the tentative agreement next week, with results announced Saturday, April 8.