On the Picket Line

Los Angeles school workers, teachers rally for new contract

By Bill Arth
April 3, 2023
Militant/Jan GangelLos Angeles school workers and teachers rally March 15, 2023, outside City Hall for a new contract. Rally was organized by SEIU Local 99 and United Techers Los Angeles to demand a pay raise and smaller class sizes.

LOS ANGELES — Thousands of public school workers held a spirited rally here March 15 outside City Hall to demand the Los Angeles Unified School District negotiate a new contract. The rally was organized by Service Employees International Union Local 99, with some 30,000 members, including bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria and other food service workers, and the 35,000-member-strong United Teachers Los Angeles.

Local 99 members are demanding a 30% pay raise in addition to $2 an hour more for workers in the lowest wage grades.

“It’s important the teachers are here with us,” Dana Wallace, a food service worker who has labored for the Los Angeles school district off and on since the 1990s, told the Militant. “We want a big raise, not a little bitty one. We can’t really afford to go on strike and I think the current board is trying to wait us out.”

United Teachers Los Angeles is seeking a 20% raise over two years, starting with the 2022-23 school year. Negotiations began last May. Another key issue is for smaller class sizes. “We need a raise at least to match inflation,” said David Estuaran, chapter chair for the union at his school in South Central L.A. “Teachers are showing solidarity with other school workers in SEIU. School officials treat them like dirt. Many are part time and have no benefits.”

Local 99 leaders told the rally the union will hold a three-day strike March 21-23. UTLA has pledged to honor the picket lines.