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These workers began striking after nearly a year of unsuccessful negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District about wage raises.
On Friday, Los Angeles’ Service Employees International Union (SIEU) Local 99 school workers returned to work after concluding a massive three-day strike that demanded wages raise and better working conditions.
SIEU, which represents about 30,000 school custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and other student services staff, stated that the strike was over, but the fight for its schools continues.
“By standing together on the picket lines, before the sun was up and through the wind and rain, we showed we are not afraid; we are stronger than ever,” said Theresa Thomas, a food service worker, stressing that they won the respect they have been demanding
On Tuesday, school workers began striking after nearly a year of unsuccessful negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). This initiative ended with a large rally at Los Angeles State Historic Park.
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SIEU members said they feel undervalued by low wages, lack of personnel, and excessive working hours. Their average salary (about US$25,000 a year) is barely enough to survive in Los Angeles, so they usually have two or three jobs at a time.
On Wednesday, the LAUSD said that it had been “in conversation” with the school workers union and wants to “reach an agreement that honors the hard work of its employees, corrects historic inequities, and maintains the financial stability of the District.”
“We live in a weird paradox since we help feed other children but struggle to feed our ones,” union member Adrian Alverez told the KCAL outlet.
The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), which is undergoing separate contract negotiations with the LAUSD, honored the SIEU strike by urging some 35,000 members to join it.