Service Employees International Union Local 99
seiu los angeles

Union representing bus drivers, food workers and custodians authorizes strike in Los Angeles school district

Feb. 13, 2023
Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union represents 30,000 employees in the nation's 2nd-largest district.

Members of the union that represents most nonteaching employees in Los Angeles schools — cafeteria workers, custodians and teacher assistants — have voted to authorize a strike if contract negotiations break down.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the 30,000 workers represented by Local 99 of Service Employees International Union also include bus drivers, campus security aides and gardeners.

The union is seeking a 30% wage increase plus a $2-per-hour “equity wage adjustment” for all — which would especially benefit hourly workers making the least. Members voted Saturday to allow union leaders to call a strike.

The school district issued a statement on Saturday:

“Los Angeles Unified is committed to fair and equitable negotiations that offset the pressures of inflation for all employees who serve our students and schools. We are hopeful that we will reach an agreement at the negotiating table that is beneficial to our dedicated workforce and avoids disrupting the significant improvements we are making in instruction and social emotional support for students, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

Local 99 has declared an impasse in negotiations. The next step under California labor rules is mediation, scheduled to begin next week.

The teachers union has pledged to support a Local 99 strike.

The average annual pay for the bargaining unit with instructional aides is $27,531. The average for the unit that includes bus drivers, custodians and food service workers is $31,825. Teacher assistants on average make $22,657. Those in the unit that includes after-school program workers on average make $14,576.

About 24,000 Local 99 members work fewer than eight hours a day, and about 6,000 work eight-hour jobs. 

“This over-reliance on a low-wage, part-time workforce makes it difficult for the school district to retain and recruit workers, leading to serious staffing shortages,” a union spokeswoman said.

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