By: Sydney Ghazarian
“You braved the cold, you braved the wind, you braved some hail, and you braved the hellish rains. And we took the fight to every corner of Los Angeles. We had strong picket lines, we had massive rallies, and we, together, put LAUSD on notice!”
United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) President Cecily Myart-Cruz’s comments were met with seismic applause from the sea of red and purple that stretched across L.A. State Historic Park- tens of thousands of workers and community allies rallying on the third and final day of an historic UTLA and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local 99 strike. The Unfair Labor Practice strike was led by SEIU local 99, with UTLA striking in solidarity. The two unions represent a combined 65,000 education workers across the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)– teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians, special education aides, bus drivers, and other essential school workers who, after a year of bargaining without results, were fed up with poverty wages for workers and underinvestment in schools.
Direct action, and solidarity, gets the goods. Days after the rally in L.A. State Historic Park, SEIU 99 announced they had reached a tentative agreement with LAUSD. The agreement includes an average 30% pay increase, raised minimum wage, more staffing for student services, and a 3 million dollar education fund for workers to train and promote in-district. The new agreement could be transformative for SEIU local 99 members– many of whom are food and housing insecure.
UTLA is still at the bargaining table– alongside their visionary Beyond Recovery Platform. The platform, born from discussions among UTLA and community partners, lays out demands to transform public education in Los Angeles. The major planks are:
- Fully staff schools through measures that attract and retain educators
- Equitable and sustainable access to academic opportunity for all students
- Equitable and sustainable access to needed technology
- A safe school climate
- Healthy, green public schools
- Targeted support for students, parents, and our school communities
- Equitable school funding
One thing is certain; UTLA and SEIU local 99 are backed by parents, students, and community members who will stand with them in the fight for something better– even in the cold and rain.