(Bloomberg) -- The Los Angeles Unified School District and the union representing school support staff struck a tentative pay deal, after a strike kept 430,000 students out of the classroom for three days.
The deal for teacher assistants, custodians, cafeteria staff, bus drivers and other support staff in LA public schools includes a 6%-7% a year wage increase retroactive to 2021 plus another $2 per hour from next year and a $1,000 bonus for current employees who had worked through the pandemic.
Part-time employees working at least four hours a day will receive secure health benefits. Paraprofessionals serving students with special needs will also get increased hours and compensation.
“This agreement is a crucial step to provide equitable resources for the hardworking and dedicated employees who support the work of education,” according to a statement from Los Angeles Unified.
From Tuesday to Thursday this week, about 30,000 support staff were joined in solidarity by another 30,000 teachers in a strike that shut down the nation’s second-largest public school system.
The action drew attention to the sharp wealth divide in one of the US’s most-expensive cities. Multimillion-dollar mansions abound in affluent neighborhoods like Beverly Hills and Bel Air, a stark contrast to the situation for 80% of families in the LA school district living in poverty and 20,000 students who are homeless.
The union said its part- and full-time workers are among those who are barely making ends meet, earning an average of $25,000 a year, and they need better pay to keep up with soaring costs.
The agreement brings the Los Angeles Unified minimum wage to $22.52 an hour, outpacing the city of Los Angeles and the state of California, according to a statement from the union.
Almost half of Los Angeles renters are “severely rent-burdened,” meaning they devote more than half their income toward housing and utilities, according to a 2020 study by the University of Southern California’s Sol Price Center for Social Innovation.
The agreement comes as a relief for parents, who were scrambling for childcare, bringing to mind the 2020-2021 pandemic school closures that resulted in academic losses that continue to affect some students.
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