LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Thousands of Los Angeles school service workers began voting March 13 on whether to authorize a strike. “After nearly a year of negotiations, [the Los Angeles Unified School District] has not made any significant movement to improve our wages and staffing for student services,” SEIU Local 99, which represents custodians, cafeteria workers, special education assistants and others, said in a statement. The union has filed charges against the district for bargaining in bad faith, it added. LAUSD chief labor negotiator Najeeb Khoury told reporters that the district is offering a 2% raise for the 2017-18 school year, to reopen the contract if its financial situation improves in the 2018-19 or 2019-20 school years, and to add of seven extra work days for part-timers. Most of the district’s support staff work part-time. Local 99 also wants the district to revive programs to help service workers to become teachers, and give a bigger raise than 2%. “While we’ve worked with the District to lift the wage floor,” it said, many of its “most experienced, long-time workers still struggle on wages that have not kept up with the rising costs of living.” The voting ends on Friday, March 23. Read more


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