We are SEIU Local 99—Education Workers United. We are teacher’s assistants, playground workers, special education aides, bus drivers, gardeners, custodians, cafeteria workers, maintenance workers, early education and Head Start workers, child care providers, and others working in schools, colleges, and administrative offices. Together, we represent the interests of nearly 35,000 public and private sector education workers throughout Los Angeles and Ventura County.
We, the working men and women believe we have a moral responsibility to the future generations to leave the world a better place for all who come after us. Therefore, we, SEIU Local 99 in both public and private sector jurisdictions, are united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide.
We unite to form a stronger union to build power for ourselves and to protect and develop the welfare and interest of our membership and organize all working people through education and collective actions so that we shall obtain the best possible compensation for our labor, greater control over all aspects of our work and improvements of the conditions under which we work.
We empower accountable and courageous leadership.
We strive to enhance the strength and influence of the union while improving the lives of workers and their families. Our power and effectiveness depend upon the active participation and commitment of our members and solidarity with each other and our political and community allies.
Our strength comes from our unity and diversity. We must not be divided by forces of discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity, immigration status, religion, age, physical ability, gender expression, marital status and sexual orientation. We are standard bearers in the struggle for social, economic, global justice and civil liberties.
We pledge ourselves to provide the highest quality of services for our communities and ourselves.
In the mid-1940s, two Los Angeles Unified School District custodians Marvin Quinn and Carl Magnusen begin meeting in Marvin’s backyard over hot dogs and lemonade to organize classified public school workers. Despite Los Angeles’ reputation as being strongly anti-labor, Local 99 is founded on January 19, 1949. LAUSD custodians and gardeners become the first workers to form their union with Local 99.
Now officially a part of the Building Service Employees International Union, this is the formative period in Local 99’s history, and we begin meeting with the LAUSD School Board to improve jobs and student services. We fight for better wages and working conditions, regular hours, the elimination of split shifts, job safety, seniority, health and retirement benefits, and protecting workers’ hours. More job classifications begin to join, adding to the custodians and gardeners who originally start our union. And from the start we understand the importance of being involved politically. One of our early Secretary Treasurers, Ed Bratrud, leads efforts to get legislation passed to allow a property tax override for school districts so that they can pay for employee benefits.
We’re in a decade of political activism—not just in the country, but right here in Local 99. We work to endorse and campaign for candidates who support working people and elect them to local and state offices. We also introduce and fight for legislation to increase member benefits. In 1966, we win biweekly paychecks instead of once-per-month paychecks at LAUSD. In 1968, we win fully-paid health care for a majority of workers at LAUSD. We purchase our union hall on 8th St. in Los Angeles in 1969, and we join with teachers in a strike to protest poor wages and working conditions and a series of job cuts. By standing together with members of a sister union and fighting for their jobs as well as our own, nearly all jobs are saved.
Members enjoy stronger rights on the job and become more involved to help other workers form their union with Local 99. In 1975, we win passage of The Rodda Bill, giving all school employees the right to collective bargaining. LAUSD bargaining units B and C get their first contract. This victory launches Local 99’s biggest organizing drive of its 30-year history. In 1974, recognizing that retired members are a vital part of our union, member Dan Johnson starts the Senior Division of Local 99.
The 1980s are tough times for workers all over the country. Anti-labor policies in government are in full force. President Reagan sets the tone when he decertifies PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) and fires 12,000 air traffic controllers overnight. These policies continue to weaken unions throughout the decade. But by the end of the decade, Local 99 workers have had enough! Our local conducts an ambitious, year-long campaign to help Teacher Assistants at LAUSD organize with Local 99. The result: 8,000 Teacher Assistants gain a stronger voice at work and a contract with guarantees and protections. In 1989, with strong participation from union members, we win an election that ensures every bargaining unit member that benefits from the wages and benefits negotiated in our contracts pays their fair share.
This is a great decade for Local 99, with many victories in our contracts, career development programs, and a new era of cooperation with and respect from the various school districts employing us. In 1991, Teachers Assistants get their first contract, which includes a bilingual differential. Following the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Local 99 members are among the first employees back on campuses working tirelessly to ready the schools for students. United States Congressman Howard Berman honors Local 99 members for our outstanding efforts during the earthquake recovery. In 1998, more than 4,000 Supervision and Playground Aides at LAUSD join our union.
In 2000, we win key contractual agreements with Lynwood and Torrance Unified School Districts. Early education workers at Charles Drew Head Start join Local 99 in 2001, and Options, Inc. workers join the following year. We continue our efforts to organize and negotiate contracts for more early education workers. LAUSD substitute teachers organize in 2006 and shortly thereafter negotiate and ratify their first contract. In 2007, 2,300 LAUSD food service workers win health care benefits. In 2008, Local 99 launches its Member Resource Center, which utilizes a computer database to track grievances and hearings.
Family child care providers join Local 99 and continue to fight for a voice in their industry. They win quarterly “Provider Input Meetings” with the California Department of Education to begin fixing the state’s broken child care system. At LAUSD, we win a $15 minimum wage, establish (and then protect) the Breakfast in the Classroom program and preserve flexible transportation funding. Head Start and Early Educators at MAOF establish a Labor Management Committee, giving them a voice in everyday operations decisions. Workers at The Accelerated School, an independent charter school, win their first labor union contract.
We continue to make politics and government work for working people. We fight Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan to completely eliminate state-subsidized child care. We fight for education funding as California recovers from the Great Recession and win a huge upset victory when California voters pass Governor Brown’s Proposition 30, reversing years of cuts to education. This leads to an immediate rescission of 10 furlough days at LAUSD. Furthermore, our efforts to elect President Obama pay-off as he signs the Education Jobs Bill, bringing $1.2 b to California schools. The Education Department estimates that this funding saves 160,000 jobs nationwide. At LAUSD alone, the money saves an estimated 1,700 jobs. We work to help pass the Affordable Care Act, giving 32 million Americans access to high quality affordable health care. We win California Senate Bill 1234, which begins to plan for a retirement security solution for workers without employer-based retirement benefits.
Family Child Care Providers
Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF)
Los Angeles Unified School District
Compton Unified School District
Hacienda La Puente Unified School District
Lynwood Unified School District
Pleasant Valley School District
Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District
Torrance Unified School District
Montague Charter Academy
The Accelerated Schools
Los Angeles Community College District
Ventura County Community College District