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Fri, Mar

Congrats to the SEIU For Pay Raises...Now Can It Be Paid For?

LOS ANGELES

THE DOCTOR IS IN - I am hoping that a simple answer to the question/title of this piece is...YES.  

To my understanding, the recent strike (I am overall NOT a fan of strikes, and NOT a fan of holding a gun to children's heads with respect to their education, but I also understand that bargaining sometimes fails) was not for teachers but for part-time employees and support staff...and not for the teachers themselves. 

To quote the abc7 website, the part-time works  and paraprofessionals will get: 

"Salary increases of:

  • 6% ongoing wage increase retroactive to July 1, 2021
  • 7% ongoing wage increase retroactive to July 1, 2022
  • 7% ongoing wage increase effective July 1, 2023
  • $2 per hour increase for all employees effective January 1, 2024
  • Provide a $1,000 appreciation bonus for current employees who were with the district in the 2020-21 school year

The deal also bumps the minimum wage for LAUSD workers to $22.52 an hour. Health benefits will also be secured for part-time employees assigned to work four or more hours a day, including coverage for their qualified dependents."

Yours truly might lean to the right economically, and politically to boot, but I am pretty darned moderate with respect to workers' rights. I've seen creepy unions mess a business up, and I have ALSO seen some pretty damned creepy management. 

And the latter is often (both in the public and private sectors) too much of a "talk to the hand" mentality.  

As a nation, but particularly as a state, we're too often IGNORING the causes of inflation (energy, housing, and food too damned expensive, but we vote in the same left-wing, limousine-liberal aristocracy who causes inflation).  

But people have to live, and to eat, if even most of them have yet to realize they're voting too often against their own best interests. 

As I've stated to my own and other employers, "it's not the fault of a company that inflation exists in the Golden State, but it is our problem". 

In other words, workers might NOT want to leave a given employer, private-sector or public-sector, but they certainly WILL if it's necessary to eat, have utilities paid for, and have enough gas in the tank to get to work. 

So I therefore note that while the voters did give a big thumbs down to teachers for more money, the sentiment for more money to the paraprofessionals and part-time workers/support staff probably got more respect. 

And as a former janitor, and someone who believes that janitors are right behind police and firefighters as necessary workers who keep our civilization alive, I'm rather sentimental towards support staff. 

Ditto for those teacher's aides and special needs specialists who really make a difference, and are particularly needed for the EXPLOSION of diagnosed autism, learning disability, and mental health children who will not survive as adults in our modern-day economy (and greater society) without help. 

Hence I want to commend our new Mayor Karen Bass, who really is a heartfelt problem-solver (or is one heckuva good actor trying to be one...but she appears so far to be the real deal) and who played no small role in giving the workers what they wanted. 

The big questions I have, and it's based on sustainability of the recent successful strike results, are budgetary: 

1) Does the budget of California allow for the raises, which are even higher than what was offered by the LAUSD? Lots of education-related workers want raises, and it's likely they'll get what they need (but might not be budgeted). 

2) Do we have the political will to slash unnecessary educational bureaucracy to pay for essential workers (much of this bureaucracy is anything but essential). 

2) We're way, way behind on water infrastructure, and after years of listening to the anti-dam and water infrastructure folks who probably failed high school science (but who have power), the California budget must focus on the obvious disaster this state faces as we let water that would easily take care of us for the next several years go straight from the sky into the ocean. 

3) Billions of dollars remain for the bait-and-switch high-speed rail effort in California to be built (and it's anyone's guess as to operational budgeting), and there are no shortage of Democratic and other left-leaning voters who are wondering if that budgetary nightmare can be confronted without affecting other critical priorities...like education. 

4) And the biggie: California and L.A. voters are now saying NO to more taxes and bonds for education after years of saying YES. Things have changed.  

WILL THE STRIKE SETTLEMENT LEAD TO A REQUEST FOR INCREASED TAXPAYER RESPONSIBILITY/LARGESSE? 

It's hoped that the answer is a simple "NO". Because if there are new ballot initiatives (maybe the Legislature can do an end run around the voters), this raise to the LAUSD part-time/paraprofessional workers (rightful as it very well appears to be) might be one that will run into budgetary hurdles in the years to come. 

 

(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband to a wonderful wife and father to two cherished children. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 9, years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees for 10 years. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)