The union representing Los Angeles Unified School workers is fighting to get some 10,000 employees included in the district’s healthcare plan.
Dozens of labor activists and school workers picketed outside the LAUSD Board of Education to demand healthcare access for all district employees.
[Ernesto Arce has more from Los Angeles.]
Teacher’s assistants, after-school caregivers and playground supervisors protested outside Los Angeles Unified headquarters asking that the board of education reconsider health care coverage for 10,264 employees who were denied benefits.
The Service Employees International Union local 99 said it’s currently in negotiations with officials from the nation’s second largest school district to overturn the decision. The Office of the Superintendent said the district didn’t have enough money in the budget to include these workers in their health care program.
Max Arias, executive director of SEIU Local 99, said the union heeded calls from the workers who he says deserve what all other district employees were offered.
“These are the mothers and fathers of district students, educators committed to keeping our children safe and learning, LAUSD graduates, future teachers, members of our Latino and African American communities who have historically suffered from unequal access to quality health care.”
Arias and other labor supporters blocked the street in front of district headquarters to traffic and posted on a fence computer print outs with thousands of names of those employees who have been left out of healthcare benefit plans.
He said these are not just numbers on a spreadsheet, but real people.
Union members joined by district teachers wearing their red UTLA teachers union T-shirts, marched around the front door banging cans and containers while chanting for equal access to health care.
Blanca Gallegos, is a spokesperson for the union that represents about 35,000 Los Angeles Unified district employees.
“There are so many families who find the health care plan completely unaffordable. Families should not have to decide between food and health care. This is a problem that needs to be addressed right away. I hope the school board is listening.”
Several LAUSD Board of Education members voiced their support for union demands. District officials, however, said there wasn’t money in the budget for what they called hefty health benefit packages.
Union President Barbara Torres said that for some of the people they represent, health care costs make up about 20 percent of their salaries, and for two or more dependents it could cost nearly 90 percent of an average teacher’s assistant’s salary.
“We have started negotiations and they say they don’t have the budget, but what we are asking for is a few million. We hope the board will direct the superintendent to consider our request.”
District employees excluded from the health benefit plans said they’re the last to receive benefits and pay increases because their jobs are considered entry-level and don’t require higher education degrees.
For Workers Independent News, Ernesto Arce, Los Angeles