The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Los Angeles:
Poverty Wages for School Workers

Jul 21, 2014

“Victory. Landmark wage increase.” This is how SEIU Local 99 announced the ratification of the contract for 33,000 cafeteria workers, custodians, special education aides and other service workers in L.A. schools. Local 99 leaders proclaimed that this contract would “lift … 20,000 LAUSD workers and their families out of poverty.”

That sure sounds good, but it is simply NOT TRUE.

These 20,000 workers today make a sub-poverty wage of $8 to $9 an hour. Moving them to $15 an hour over three years will still leave them in poverty.

Even today, it would be a poverty wage. According to the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, the “Fair Market Rent” for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,398 in L.A. County. At $15 per hour, that’s more than two weeks’ income before taxes–IF a worker works 40 hours a week. And SEIU officials themselves said that more than 90 per cent of Local 99 members work less than eight hours a day!

SEIU is running this same fight for a poverty contract all over the country. In Baltimore the lowest paid workers at Johns Hopkins Hospital were handed a similar contract. SEIU says it is not what they asked for, but it’s a beginning. A beginning to what, the same downward spiral?

Poverty wages for tens of thousands of workers who make the schools and hospitals run. This is the record run up by SEIU’s latest “campaign.”