LAUSD workers held a rally Wednesday at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Pablo De La Hoya for Boyle Heights Beat.

Schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District are set to close from 

Tuesday, March 21 to Thursday, March 23 during a planned strike of 65,000 teachers and other staff.

​​SEIU members are seeking a 30% wage increase, a $2 per hour raise, more hours, health insurance, and a stop to private contractors.

According to numbers provided by SEIU, members on average make $25,000 a year. They work the 180 days of a typical school year, usually for six hours a day. They aren’t paid during Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break and other holidays.

The district says it has offered workers a 15% wage increase, health benefits to those who work at least four hours a day, and other concessions. Last week, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho expressed his disappointment with the union’s bargaining, saying SEIU has left “a historic offer on the table.”

Members of Local 99 held a rally last Wednesday at downtown’s Grand Park, where they were joined by educators who are members of United Teacher LA (UTLA). The teachers’ union has said it will support the strike called by Local 99.

At the rally, Boyle Heights Beat had the chance to speak with three teachers from Boyle Heights schools: Gillian Russom from Roosevelt High School; Meredith Miller, from Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet and Daniel Martinez, from Felícitas and Gonzalo Méndez.

Here are some of their statements:

On Local 99 demands

“The district doesn’t want to address major issues. Our Local 99 makes very low wages. 20,000 a year is the average. And they work everyday with our students and schools. 
“They need a big pay raise so they can even afford to do the work.”

Gillian Russom

“Literally, who in Los Angeles can live off of these wages? When I just started teaching, I was making 40,000 and had to live with my parents.”

Meredith Miller

On teachers’ demands

“We are asking for a 20% raise because with the cost of living in LA, teachers keep leaving [the job].

“We are asking for more counselors, more nurses,… funding for community schools and the black student achievement plan. A lot of things our students need. 

“We have a superintendent who came from Miami, where the unions are very weak. And we hope he now gets the idea what he’s dealing with.” 

Gillian Russom

“We are tired of not having a contract. It’s been over 10 months.

We teachers and our Local 99 [workers] don’t have a contract. We’re trying to let the district know, ‘hey, what’s up. Where’s our contract?’”

Daniel Martinez

Need for more social workers

“You’ve been hearing how mental health for young people has been such a big issue, especially since the pandemic. And we can’t get enough social workers  because the district doesn’t pay enough. 

“My kids can’t learn if they’re dealing with anxiety, depression, and insomnia. So we need more of those folks and to get them, to attract them, we need to pay them better.”

Gillian Russom

Lack of supplies

“I teach art. Art supplies are expensive. For me and my class, we need more money to buy more supplies. Just consumables we need throughout the year.”

Daniel Martinez

Boyle Heights Beat reporter Alex Medina and youth reporter Dania Alejandres contributed to this story. With reporting from LAist.

Avatar photo

Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *