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Los Angeles Schools, Union Leaders Reach Deal After Strike

The Los Angeles Unified School District and union leaders said Friday that they had reached a deal on pay raises for bus drivers, custodians and other support staff after a three-day strike that shut down the nation's second-largest school system.

The deal includes a series of retroactive raises going back to 2021 that will collectively hike worker pay by about 30%, said Max Arias, executive director of Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union.

The deal also provides workers with a one-time $1,000 raise, sets the district's minimum wage at $22.52 and creates a $3 million educational and professional development fund for union members, district Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said. Free health care will be provided for any employee working at least four hours a day, he said.

"I have no doubt that this contract will be seen as a precedent-setting, historic contract that elevates the dignity, the humanity of our workforce, respects the needs of our students, but also guarantees the fiscal viability of our district for years to come," Carvalho said.

He announced the deal alongside Max Arias, executive director of Local 99, and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. Both sides credited Bass, who took office in December, with helping reach the agreement.

The deal must still be voted on by the full union, which represents about 30,000 workers who also include cafeteria workers, special education assistants and other support staff. Those workers walked off the job Tuesday through Thursday amid stalled talks, and classes resumed Friday.

Members of United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing 35,000 educators, counselors and other staff, joined the picket lines in solidarity.

The union said district support staffers earn, on average, about $25,000 per year and many live in poverty because of low pay or limited work hours while struggling with inflation and the area's high cost of housing.

The deal came just days after the union accused the district of engaging in unfair labor practices. Arias noted that another contract must be negotiated next year.

"Thanks to the parents of Los Angeles and the students of Los Angeles and everyone who stood shoulder to shoulder with our members," he said.

SEIU members have been working without a contract since June 2020, while the contract for teachers expired in June 2022. The unions decided last week to stop accepting extensions.

Teachers waged a six-day strike in 2019 over pay and contract issues, but schools remained open.