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SEIU local union wins wage increase

Teacher assistant Juanita Turcios hugs her daughter
Teacher assistant Juanita Turcios hugs her daughterGary Friedman/L.A. Times

The Los Angeles Times just reported that Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has reached an agreement with SEIU Local 99 service workers union to raise the minimum pay for its classified school workers to $15 an hour. The minimum wage agreement was unanimously passed by the LAUSD Board. Superintendent; John Deasy endorsed the deal, calling it “philosophically easy” if “financially difficult.” Local 99 Executive Director, Courtni Pugh said “this historic agreement sets a new standard for ending poverty in our schools, and this will be felt in school districts across Los Angeles, and the country.”

As stated in the article the $money to pay for the pay raise will have to come from somewhere? Classified service workers include; custodians, bus drivers, teacher assistants, and others, and will also have an effect on other employee unions (both teacher and non-teacher positions) who will be eyeing dollars from the new state funding system, and other resources.

This writer supports the agreement. And not just because I’m a retired classified school employee – but because it’s the right thing to do, and is long overdue. However, to put the problem into perspective…..this agreement will directly help thousands of school employees who make up the 33,000 membership of local 99 (many who make less than $9 hour) and many of them have children in the school system. But the agreement will not directly benefit many of the 600,000 plus families in LAUSD.

To adequately begin to fix the “poverty crisis” we have in Los Angeles, and the country….poverty relief will need to be provided to the masses of people who currently live below the poverty line! All other attempts will only benefit the fortunate few.

Solution! Include student’s parents as “true partners” in educating their children by creating policies that train and compensate them for their engagement in supporting school related outcomes. Many of these parents are not working or are under-employed. These days’ regular school site positions are not sufficient to deliver school/district wide desired outcomes. Parents/guardians who serve on school mandated councils, committees, should especially be compensated because their input is just as valuable (and sometimes more) as any school employee.

It’s unfair to see these parent leaders who represent hundreds of thousands of families….but treated as bake sale volunteers. Oftentimes real change requires drastic and innovative solutions!