Venice High Speaks On SEIU Strike

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Alex Esparza, Co-Engagement Editor

Reading Time: 2 minutes

After last month’s three-day strike, LAUSD and SEIU Local 99 reached a tentative contract agreement, including a 30 percent pay raise and an additional $2 an hour effective July 1st this year.

In addition, there will be bonus payments and welfare and benefits for all part-time employees as well as elimination of unassigned days. Much like an “Equity wage adjustment for all.”

SEIU Local 99 represents over 30,000 school workers that serve over 600,000 LAUSD students. The union asked for over 35,000 members to strike and protest in solidarity with their demands for a wage increase and better working conditions and benefits from LAUSD.

Having these SEIU workers is crucial. They’re the bus drivers, cafeteria workers, special education teachers and aides on campus. Right now, the average income for an SEIU worker is around $25,000 dollars a year, which is not enough to have a livable wage in Los Angeles.

“These workers commute to schools spending on average six to seven hours a day working.” According to special education assistant Becky Pfannkuch, these workers have shown that they have had enough of LAUSD’s mismanagement and disrespect.

“We all believe we deserve respect around the workplace first and foremost from everyone and acknowledgement of what we do and how hard we work,” she said. “I believe that they should be up to date with the price of living and with the inflation that has occurred.”

Living in Los Angeles is getting harder and harder for these workers, having the wages they get right now.

Yet the district has encountered more than 15 percent in wage increases over three years and an equity adjustment for employees making less than 30 dollars an hour.

The district also claims to offer paid health benefits for employees and their dependents who work at least 4 hours a day or 80 hours per month.

Unions like SEIU and UTLA for both teachers and service workers, give them a real sense of solidarity.

“It’s like somebody’s on my side,” according to special education assistant Lindy Williston. “I haven’t needed them for a while but it’s nice to know they’re there, and I feel protected by them.”

In solidarity, the teachers union for LAUSD (UTLA) stood by SEIU and its workers in order to receive fair wages and treatment. These teachers know what it’s like to work in these conditions.

“Educators are being disrespected,” said history teacher Peta Lindsay. “SEIU workers show up every single day and work as hard as they can taking care of the young people of this city, and the city gives them poverty wages in return. We are the people taking care of your kids, and we deserve fair pay and respect.”

The teachers and assistants across LAUSD have expressed that the public doesn’t understand the work these SEIU members do to keep the schools functioning.

With this strike, they wanted to make it known that how hard their work matters everyday.