JUST IN: SEIU Local 99 and LAUSD reach tentative deal
Vanessa Romo | June 30, 2014
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SEIU Local 99, which represents school cafeteria workers, custodians, special education assistants, campus safety monitors and other school service workers, has reached a tentative contract agreement with LA Unified that includes an incremental rise to a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
The three-year phase in brings workers up to $11 an hour for the coming school year, $13 an hour the following year and $15 an hour in 2016-17.
The increases affect nearly 20,000 employees who currently make $8 to $9 an hour.
As for SEIU 99 workers currently above $15 an hour, they will get a 6.64 percent raise, phased in over three years.
Terms of the new deal still need to be ratified by union members. They have until 6 pm Wednesday to vote to approve the contract, assuming it’s approved by the LA Unified board tomorrow.
“Because nearly half of the school workers represented by SEIU Local 99 are parents of children attending LAUSD schools, this agreement provides greater stability and increased opportunity for thousands of District students,” SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Courtni Pugh said in a statement.
While the union succeeded on its goal of raising the minimum to $15 an hour, it failed to gain a 15 percent increase for its other members. The first raise, of 2 percent, takes effect July 1, with the second coming a year later and a third, of 2.5 percent, the year after that. The 6.64 percent figure is a result of compounding all three increments.
However, raises beyond this year are not guaranteed. Language in the contract says they are contingent on the “district identifying increased revenues and/or reductions in operating expenses sufficient to fund the budgetary impacts of these wage increases.”
That leaves SEIU members a guaranteed 2 percent hike only for one year, the same deal LA Unified has offered the teachers union, UTLA, which has been seeking a 17.6 percent increase.
Also included in the SEIU agreement are commitments by the district to restore special education work hours lost in 2012, to increase staffing hours to ensure all students can learn in a safe, clean, and supportive environment; and to expand OASIS, a program the union has spearheaded, offering health care, counseling and tutoring services to students and their parents on LAUSD campuses.
Union president Barbara Torres remarked that the contract “begins to restore many of the essential student services that were lost during years of cuts.”
It’s not clear that a majority of members will endorse the contract.
On her personal Facebook page, former chair of the local’s political action committee and former member of the union’s bargaining committee, Kathryn Torres, who is Barbara Torres’s sister, is urging members to vote against it.
“It is a good thing that they got a $15 minimum wage but the rest of us have had a cost of living increase, too,” she told LA School Report. “A 6.64 percent raise is not enough.”
SEIU 99, which represents school workers in Lynwood, Compton and Santa Monica Unified school districts negotiated far more favorable terms for employees there. “At a minimum they got 4 percent raises in the first year plus bonuses,” Torres said.
Torres, who has often been at odds with SEIU’s highest ranking leadership, asked, “Why do we have to settle for this chump change?”