After a strike closed schools for three days, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the union representing support staff employees reached an agreement on pay raises, ending a labor dispute that all sides said was about the larger financial struggles of working-class families. Mayor Karen Bass brokered the deal, the Los Angeles Times reports, which will have to be approved by union members to take effect. Strikers, who included workers at the bottom of the district's pay scale, stressed longstanding inequities; the employees included bus drivers, aides of various kinds, custodians, and food service workers.
Most of the employees "don't just work in our schools," Bass said Friday. "They are LAUSD parents as well. And today for too many hardworking people, working full time is just too hard—to put a roof over their heads and put food on the table." Strikers also cast the dispute as a matter of respect for the workers, which the union said was key to winning raises and other improvements, per USA Today. "The agreement addresses our key demands and sets us on a clear pathway to improving our livelihoods and securing the staffing we need to improve student services," the union said in a statement.
The deal calls for a 30% wage increase; retroactive pay of $4,000 to $8,000, including a $1000 bonus; an increase in the average salary from $25,000 to $33,000; and health care for employees working at least four hours a day. "You don’t even know how happy I am," said Erika Rioverde, an elementary school employee who has worked for the district for nine years. Her pay will increase from about $15 an hour to $22.52, the new minimum. "Finally, something is changing," she said. (Read more Los Angeles stories.)