- The Breakdown
- New story, new art, who dis?!
New story, new art, who dis?!
New work from a student reporter and artist plus repubs from our media partners
Happy Friday! And, Happy Coachella weekend No. 2, those who celebrate. I'm sad to see that Frank Ocean dropped out, but I'll be honest: I didn't have high hopes after the first weekend. Right now, you'll find me in Coachella Valley because 🎡🤸nothing keeps me from Bad Bunny!!!! But, before I left, I put together our freshest news of the week featuring amazing reporting and our first foray into custom art from one of out talented community college student contributors.
by Hal Marie Saga
Photo illustration by Hal Marie Saga
Help me understand the strike.
Service Employees International Union, Local 99 members (a union which represents 30,000 food service workers, custodians, special education assistants, teacher assistants, bus drivers and other LAUSD essential workers) held a three-day strike in March for higher pay and more hours. Their efforts highlighted the reality of working full-time but remaining in poverty faced by SEIU Local 99's predominantly Black and Latine* workers. SEIU Local 99 ended the strike and L.A. Unified agreed to a “30% wage increase that will lift the average annual salary from $25,000 to $33,000 for workers providing essential student services” and to raise its minimum wage from $15 an hour to $22.52.
Does race play a role in all this...? Yup.
Palisades Charter High School (not part of LAUSD but rents LAUSD facilities and receives funds directly from the state) serves the affluent and predominantly white neighborhoods of Pacific Palisades and Brentwood. Here, nearly 80 employees earned more than $95,000 in the 2018-19 school year—up to $201,000. What's more is that the gap between Supt. Alberto Carvalho’s salary and the pay of most district's workers is chasmic. Carvalho makes $440,000 annually as part of his contract.
Seventy-four percent of SEIU Local 99’s members self-identify as “Black and Brown women,” nearly half of whom are parents of school-aged children. Non-livable wages disproportionately already affect historically-marginalized groups in California.
Fifty-five percent of Latine Californians, or 1.09 million people, are counted among the state’s working poor, according to PPIC. This is 15% higher than the state’s Latine population. At four percent, the state’s Black working poor—80,000 people— is just under the state’s 5% Black population. However, PPIC research estimates about 13% of Black Californians are considered poor.
What's the reality for most L.A. Unified non-teacher staff workers?
Data shows that even with the new raise, LAUSD's pay for these staff workers is woefully inadequate to support a family. According to SEIU Local 99 membership data published in a union report, 48% of members are their families’ sole breadwinners. According to MIT's Living Wage Calculator, more than twice the new minimum wage is necessary for a single adult to maintain a household with one child. And, the new pay rate still falls short in a two-worker household with a child. Under the new agreement, the maximum annual salary is now $33,000, but that amount for a family of four still lies between what U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department guidelines consider very low income, $59,550, and extremely low income at $35,750.
What's happening for teachers across the district?
On April 18, United Teachers Los Angeles—who supported SEIU Local 99 in their strike efforts—negotiated a new contract that gives LAUSD teachers a 21% wage increase, raising the average annual salary to $106,000. This new agreement is a remarkable win for certified staff with teaching credentials. But, raising salaries for classified employees is slower. The tentative agreement between SEIU Local 99 and the district is just a small step toward thousands of LAUSD workers making livable wages.
Editor’s note: You may have noticed that we’ve started using Latine instead of Latino to describe those of Latin American descent. Here’s why.
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
by Dana Amihere
We celebrated one year since we announced AfroLA was coming to disrupt Los Angeles’s local news landscape. AfroLA's executive director and founder reflects on how things are going a year later.
As you might have noticed, sometimes we republish content from other mission-aligned news outlets to supplement our own coverage. We want to keep you up to date on the important news regarding L.A.'s Black community and communities of color, but there's only so much we can do as a small org.
At the top of our republished content, you'll find a gray box called "AfroLA's Take," where we explain why we chose to share that particular story with our audience. This week, we thought these articles from Mother Jones and Capital & Main deserved a read:
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