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SEIU school workers in Los Angeles announce 2023 strike vote

The fall has been filled with strikes and threats, and now the latest group of workers to join the fray are school workers at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). SEIU Local 99 – the union that represents the workers – announced this week that the union plans to hold a vote to authorize a strike in 2023.

SEIU Local 99 represents 30,000 cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, special education assistants and other related workers. The union recently protested outside LAUSD headquarters to highlight their demands.

The union demanded higher pay, more full-time work options for its members, and better healthcare benefits. The average annual salary for workers is $25,000 and most workers have part-time work schedules.

SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias said, “After months of bargaining, LAUSD has stalled or outright rejected our proposals for clean, safe and supportive schools.” Arias added, “Workers are calling for living wage increases, equitable health care benefits and more full-time work to address the dire staffing shortages.”

A statement from LAUSD noted that the school district “continues to engage in respectful negotiations with our labor partners” and is balancing the “current economic environment” with the need to serve students.

Compounding the issue, LAUSD workers have been operating without a contract since their most recent contract expired in 2020. The current round of negotiations has been at an impasse since negotiations resumed in April 2022.  

If SEIU Local 99 goes on strike, it could disrupt bus schedules and transportation, food preparation and lunch schedules, cleaning of school buildings and classrooms, and special education classes for LAUSD’s 431,158 students.

Spencer Irvine

Spencer Irvine is Senior Writer & Researcher at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Spencer previously worked in state government, in communications for a non-profit advocacy organization, and held various administrative and communications roles at a media analysis organization. He has a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brigham Young University. He lives in Arizona with his wife, is an avid history buff and enjoys touring historic sites.