Tami Abdollah / KPCC
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside L.A. Unified headquarters downtown as the board met inside to discuss the district's dire budget picture. (March 2012)
L.A. Unified and its classified workers union have reached a tentative agreement on 10 furlough days for the 2012-13 school year that will save about 6,000 union jobs and $40 million in district spending, union and district officials said today.
The agreement would affect about 30,000 SEIU Local 99 members, who include cafeteria workers, special education assistants, bus drivers, custodians and instructional aides. It will go before members for a vote from June 6 through 9, said union spokeswoman Blanca Gallegos. A majority must approve the agreement before it goes into effect. The L.A. Unified school board will also take a vote on the agreement on June 12, said district spokesman Thomas Waldman.
The classified union has already taken 16 furlough days over the last three years, Gallegos said. This academic year union members took four furlough days, she said. But 10 furlough days — or the equivalent of two unpaid weeks off — next year would be the greatest number they have taken in any one year, Gallegos said.
"It's also important to keep in mind that these are among the lowest paid workers of the district," Gallegos said. "Custodians, cafeteria workers, we know it's a hardship for our members...but we also know it's necessary in order to save jobs and to also protect services students need."
Gallegos said the agreement rescinds about 100 layoff notices that were sent to custodians as well as notices to members who would have had their year-round work reduced to 11 months.
The district is facing a $390 million shortfall that has forced it to cut many programs in its budget plan and send preliminary pink slips to thousands of educators. Unlike the regulations for teachers, the district is only required to give classified members 45-days notice before terminating their positions, Gallegos said.
"With this agreement, the district recognizes the valuable role played by the SEIU membership in helping students learn," said Superintendent John Deasy in a statement released Friday afternoon. "I'm especially grateful that our partners with SEIU took this action during these tough economic times."
Waldman could not specify what programs or positions might be restored as a result of the $40 million savings.
The agreement would require SEIU employees take the 10 furlough days between July 2012 and June 2013.