On Tuesday, Service Employees International Union Local 99, supported by United Teachers Los Angeles, plans to begin a three-day “Unfair Practice Charge Strike” to highlight their demands for 30% and 20% pay raises, respectively, plus other demands too numerous to list here.
The COVID-19 pandemic is referenced throughout the unions’ public statements, as if it’s a reason to toss the limitations of district budgets into the dustbin of history.
“These are workers who just a few years ago were deemed essential,” said SEIU spokesperson Blanca Gallegos, “and yet the district is now disrespecting and undervaluing their work.”
UTLA’s pre-bargaining “Beyond Recovery Platform” praises educators and students for their “tremendous strength and resilience through the COVID-19 pandemic…amid devastating levels of community and family trauma, economic stress, emotional isolation, and racial inequity,” without mentioning the union’s own contribution to those problems. While other districts, not to mention other states, safely reopened schools, UTLA battled successfully to keep LAUSD schools closed longer.
SEIU Local 99 represents about 30,000 cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, special education assistants and other LAUSD employees. UTLA bargains for about 35,000 teachers, counselors, therapists, librarians and nurses.
Both SEIU Local 99 and UTLA have formally terminated their contracts with LAUSD, a step that prevents the district from raising a legal argument against a strike. In an FAQ document made available online and then removed, UTLA told members that “long established law requires the district to maintain the status quo on salary, hours and other working conditions until a new agreement is bargained.”
In 2019, UTLA was on strike for six days before an agreement was reached for contract terms that then-Superintendent Austin Beutner had previously declared unaffordable. All parties emerged from the final bargaining session in agreement that what was needed was a tax increase, which the LAUSD board quickly voted to place on a special election ballot. Voters said no.
The next year the pandemic came along, and federal money for schools was produced out of thin air.
UTLA’s “Beyond Recovery Platform” calls for LAUSD to “take action to support federal COVID relief monies becoming permanent as of 2024” and also to support tax increases, described as “state initiatives in 2024 to permanently increase state school funding.”
The union’s callous disregard for the education of LAUSD students continues to be sickening.
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