Protesters listen to speakers as members of the Service Employees International Union Local 99 rally at Los Angeles Historic State Park on March 23. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)


Opinion: SEIU frustration spills into the streets

<a href="" target="_self">Elmar Navarrete Salvador</a>

Elmar Navarrete Salvador

April 28, 2023
Los Angeles workers union SEIU LOCAL 99 have grown frustrated over their underpaid salaries and demands higher wages, more staffing, and equitable access to health care, among other things. The walkout was led by Local 99 of SEIU a union of 50,000 public K-12 workers which include bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, campus security and assistants. Fighting alongside them is UTLA which has also previously brought up wage issues stemming from previous school years now joining them in solidarity.

John Marshall English teacher Daniel Infante spoke on UTLA’s involvement and solidarity.

“We could use our collective power to also benefit them we are all in it together as far as working in the school in terms of making sure the support staff has a livable wage so they don’t have to be struggling every day,” he said. “On top of that making sure we have nurses at the school every day making sure we have enough custodians on staff to actually function because right now at every level the school is falling apart along with a lot of schools at LAUSD not just here.”

These fundamental workers are not only fighting for a reasonable wage increase they are asking for respect. As they have constantly been disrespected and intimidated because they have wielded their right to speak out for improvements.

The LAUSD district, alongside Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, at first focused on legal tactics to issue a proposal to suspend the strike. This was seen as an attempt to further discourage and silence workers rather than sit down and negotiate a fair agreement.

However, this didn’t stop the red and purple surge of workers to be forged at LAUSD Headquarters in downtown Los Angeles for a unforgettable, historic rally on March 21 where they showed Superintendent Carvalho the essential workers will not be eradicated in their demands for respect or silenced, it showcased who truly has the power. 

LAUSD demonstrated its true colors by the measures these workers had to push through simply to be heard and listened to, as Superintendent Carvalho took to Twitter in a now-deleted tweet, writing “1, 2, 3…Circus = a predictable performance with a known outcome desiring of nothing more than an applause, a coin, and a promise of a next show. Let’s do it right without circus, for kids, for community, for decency.”

Referring to the ongoing union activities and thousands of workers who offer transportation every day, and clean our schools, ​​as a circus, a mere performance, that should tell you how much they care about these essential workers.

After the three-day strike, it was announced that they had reached an agreement with LAUSD. The agreement addresses the critical demands and sets workers on a path to improving their lives as they receive a 30% wage increase, a $1,000 bonus, an increase in annual salary to $33,000, and fully paid health benefits. It was the thousands of SEIU Local 99 and UTLA members that picketed at many schools and sites from early morning in the rain that made this agreement possible as they never gave up. 

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