STORY WRITTEN BY HAL SAGA, STAFF WRITER
PHOTO BY FRANCINE ORR
The union strike against the Los Angeles County Unified School District calling for fairer wages sparked questions from those who are seeking after educational careers in Orange County.
Service Employees International Union, Local 99, with the support of the United Teachers Los Angeles, held a strike demanding fairer wages from LAUSD from March 21 to 23. According to SEIU Local 99, they bargained for better resources with the district but chose to terminate their contract that contained anti-strike provisions after their requests were unaddressed.
Since the strike, SEIU Local 99 reached a tentative settlement that the district has yet to agree with them on to receive benefits, such as a 30 percent raise from $15 per hour to $22.52.
As the two largest unions, SEIU Local 99 represents over 50,000 education workers, whereas UTLA has more than 35,000 public school educators in their membership.
Although the strike was held in Los Angeles, Orange County students majoring in educational-related studies have piqued their interest in understanding what difficulties they will undergo once they begin their careers.
Destiny Castro, a student who took child development classes at Cypress College, initially wanted to work in LAUSD after her plans to complete her bachelor’s degree at California State University, Fullerton in 2024.
Growing up in a Latino household, Castro said that if she is unable to work at any school districts in Orange County, she’d choose LAUSD due to the majority Hispanic population. According to the Los Angeles Almanac, 73.97 percent of both Hispanics and Latinos comprised the total enrollment of 589,601 students in the district from 2020 to 2021.
“After reading about the strike, I became hesitant in choosing what school district I’d be financially comfortable with,” Castro said.
With members in SEIU Local 99 voting to raise their annual salary from $25,000 to $33,000, the monthly average of earnings up to $2,475 is barely enough to suffice for the reported median rent of $2,559 for a one bedroom apartment in Orange County from RentCafe.
“I’d still love to work in Los Angeles Unified for the kids if I can’t get a job in Orange County, but I don’t want to worry about what people were on strike for, like barely being able to pay rent because of their low salaries, for example. “
Long Beach City College student, Devin Stone, said that he has been hoping to become a high school theatre teacher in Orange County, where he currently resides.
According to Niche, Los Alamitos Unified School District, which includes various parts of Cypress, was rated as one of the top three best school districts in Orange County. Although it comprises nine schools, Stone said that the district’s average base salary of $56,454 a year reported by Salary.com “could work out better than most.”
UTLA posted on their Twitter account, “28% of LA educators need a second job to pay the bills.”
Since 2019, UTLA has been openly vocal about fighting for educators receiving fairer wages in LAUSD.
“Being an educator just isn’t enough to pay for everything,” said Stone.
“If it’s something many people are passionate about, then we should always be fighting for what’s right for not only us, but the students we teach.”