LAUSD workers to vote next week on proposed labor deal

Thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District service workers will vote next week on what has been described as a "historic" labor agreement reached following a strike that shuttered the nation's second-largest school district for three days.

The roughly 30,000 members of the Service Employees International Union Local 99 will cast ballots on the proposed contract between Monday and Friday of next week, with the results set to be announced on Saturday, April 8.

The agreement also must be approved by the LAUSD Board of Education. A representative for the district said that vote is expected to occur at the next regular board meeting, set for April 18.

The proposed contract effectively meets the union's demand for a 30% pay raise and also includes bonus payments, retroactive pay and fully paid health benefits.

In a statement, the district said the agreement "addresses historic pay inequities, creates a massive expansion of healthcare benefits for part-time employees, invests considerable resources into professional development for the workforce, all while maintaining financial stability for the district."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: LAUSD, striking union workers reach tentative deal after 3 days of no school

The deal was brokered in part with the assistance of Mayor Karen Bass, who announced it at a late Friday afternoon news conference at City Hall alongside LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias.

According to the SEIU, the 30% wage hike will increase the average salary of the union members from $25,000 a year to $33,000. The proposed deal also includes a $1,000 bonus for all members who were with the district during the 2020-21 school year.

The deal includes a 6% ongoing wage increase retroactive to July 2021, a 7% wage increase retroactive to July 2022 and a $2 per hour increase for all employees effective Jan. 1, 2024, Carvalho said.

The district noted that the proposal would bring the LAUSD's minimum wage to $22.52 an hour, ahead of the state and the city of Los Angeles.

It would also provide health benefits for part-time employees who work four or more hours per day, including dependent coverage. It also calls for increased hours and pay for paraprofessionals who work with special-needs students, and invests $3 million in an Education and Professional Development Fund for SEIU members.

Carvalho repeatedly referred to the tentative contract as "historic," noting that in recent years, most negotiated contracts resulted in wage increases of 2.5% to 3%.

The tentative labor pact was announced on the day that more than 400,000 LAUSD students returned to school following the SEIU's three-day strike, which was joined in solidarity by the roughly 30,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents the district's teachers. SEIU Local 99 represents cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, special education assistants and others.

The district and the union both exchanged accusations of unfair bargaining during contract talks and during the strike itself, with the district filing papers with the state accusing the union of engaging in an illegal strike by walking out before the bargaining process was completed. The union filed allegations of unfair labor practices, saying union members were subjected to harassment and intimidation tactics by the district.

The California Public Employment Relations Board concluded that the district made a strong enough case to move to the next stage in the legal process -- a formal hearing and a possible trial before an administrative law judge, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.