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East Los Angeles resident Amalia Flores, is an early childhood education aid who has worked for Los Angeles Unified for 26 years.
As East Los Angeles resident Amalia Flores sees it, she and many of her fellow workers with the Los Angeles Unified School District want a wage boost, and not just to pay the bills.
Flores, an early childhood education aide working at Brooklyn Early Education Center in East L.A., said the 30 percent wage increase she and fellow members of the Service Employees International Union Local 99 are seeking would represent some respect for their role in educating students.
“We work just as hard as certificated teachers,” Flores said.
Flores is one of 30,000 LAUSD employees, including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, special education assistants and others represented by SEIU Local 99. The union has given the district notice they will engage in a three-day unfair labor practices strike. Union members have been intimidated and the subject of other unfair behavior, said Conrado Guerrero, president of SEIU Local 99.
The strike dates will be released Wednesday. United Teachers of Los Angeles announced that its members would join the strike, the L.A. Times reported.
The union said that most SEIU Local 99 members are part-time employees who work 10 months a year and live paycheck to paycheck. One in three workers has reported having been unhoused or on the verge of being unhoused.
It’s not uncommon for workers to hold a second job to help make ends meet and have an income during long school breaks, Guerrero said.
The district has made an offer, including a 15 percent wage increase and two annual retention bonuses.
“Los Angeles Unified is disappointed that SEIU is walking away from negotiations with so much on the table,” the district said in a statement.
Flores said the increase SEIU members seek would make a significant difference for many of her coworkers. For Flores, one of a few employees who work full-time year-round, a pay increase would give her some breathing room when buying groceries and gas. It would also be a sign her contributions to children’s education are recognized.
As an early childhood education aide, Flores has been working with some of the youngest pupils in the district for 26 years, preparing her students for a solid start on their educational journey when they begin kindergarten.
“A lot of credit goes to certificated teachers,” Flores said, “but we’re setting a foundation.”
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Monica Rodriguez is a freelance writer. She has more than two decades of experience in daily journalism working for news publications in Pennsylvania and California. She is a product of Boyle Heights and continues to call the community home.
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This educator should not keep throwing other teachers under the bus. When she says pre-school teachers "work just as hard as other teachers" it doesn't ring true. She's not bringing homework home to grade at night. She's not spending weekends composing tests or grading tests. She's not writing letters of recommendations for kids to get summer jobs or college scholarships. I doubt she's in physical danger from toddlers. Why does she even bring up other teachers? It makes her argument weak.
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