School Bus

Photo courtesy LAUSD

LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Unified School District officials said today they are beginning preparations for a possible strike by thousands of workers, whose union announced this week they are canceling their existing contract due to stalled labor talks on a new pact.

Union members included in the strike would be cafeteria workers bus drivers, custodians and others. In February, workers authorized their union to call a strike if negotiations failed. The Service Employees International Union Local 99 notified the district on Tuesday of the pending cancellation of the contact, moving closer to a possible walkout.

Union officials have said the affected workers earn an average salary of $25,000 a year and have been working without a contract since June 2020. The union declared an impasse in negotiations in December, leading to the appointment of a state mediator.

LAUSD District officials said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho made the union “one of the strongest offers every proposed by a Los Angeles Unified superintendent.'' According to the district, the offer included a 5% wage increase retroactive to July 2021, another 5% increase retroactive to July 2022 and another 5% increase effective July 2023, along with a 4% bonus in 2022-23 and a 5% bonus in 2023-24.

In addition to salary demands, union officials have also alleged staffing shortages caused by an `”over-reliance on a low-wage, part-time workforce.'' The union alleged shortages including:

- insufficient teacher assistants, special education assistants and other instructional support to address learning loss and achievement gaps,

- substandard cleaning and disinfecting at school campuses because of a lack of custodial staff,

- jeopardized campus safety due to campus aides and playground supervisors being overburdened and

- limited enrichment, after school and parental engagement programs due to reduced work hours and lack of health care benefits for after school workers and community representatives.