LA SCHOOL STRIKE DRAWS STRONG PARENT SUPPORT
Despite the inconvenience faced by many Los Angeles parents, most of them are strongly supportive of the three day strike by school workers that has shut down schools in the city.
The strike, called by Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, involved school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and other non-pedagogical employees in the second largest school district in the country. LA schools serve some 420,000 students. In addition, the Los Angeles local of the American Federation of Teaches supports the strike and teachers stayed out in support.
Diana Cruz, a parent interviewed by the NY Times, talked about the difficulty the strike has caused forcing them to find care for their small children. In many cases, they have had to take their children to work with them. Nevertheless, Ms. Cruz expressed unequivocal support for the strikers whose lives they see reflected in their own. Los Angeles is an expensive city to live in with housing costs well above the national average. But it is a city of stark contrasts with hundreds of thousands earning just the minimum wage or just barely above it.
Many of the striking school workers are in that category. The union says that the average annual salary of non-pedagogical workers in LA schools is only $25,000. The school board claims that the figure consists of both full-time and part-time workers but it does not say what percentage are full-time. The superintendent of the school district is paid $440,000 a year.
“When I see the cafeteria workers, when I see the lady at the front door, when I see the lady working at the parent center, we talk mom to mom,” said one parent who cited the difficulty she has in making ends meet as she pays $2,000 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. “The struggles that they have are the same struggles that we have.”
“The intersection of school staff and the community is tight and close,” said a former LA school superintendent. “They are the community. So many of them have family members or neighbors working in schools”
Local 99 has emphasized that the fight for its members is a fight for low-wage workers all across Los Angeles. And parents seem to understand that even as the strike has caused inconvenience and hardship for them over the course of the three-day strike action.
LATEST BREAKING NEWS
Faced with overwhelming support from community and parents and solid support from teachers, the Los Angels school board has come to an agreement with Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, representing non-pedagogical employees after a three-day strike. According to the union, the agreement “addresses our key demands and sets us on a clear pathway to improving our livelihoods and securing the staffing we need to improve student services,” but noted that members still need to vote on it. The tentative agreement includes multi-year wage raises that will add up to an approximately 20 percent increase, a $1,000 bonus for current employees who worked in 2020, a $2 per hour raise for all employees effective January 1, 2024, and health care for all employees who work at least four hours per day. School workers at LAUSD are overwhelmingly women and people of color, and make an average of $25,000 year, according to union data.