Who We Are 2017-02-14T01:21:45+00:00

Who We Are

We are SEIU Local 99—the Education Workers United—representing nearly 35,000 employees in public and non-public education in early education, K-12, and community college levels throughout Southern California, including 30,000 school workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

SEIU Local 99 members at LAUSD are Teacher’s Assistants, Playground Workers, Special Education Assistants, Bus Drivers, Gardeners, Custodians, Cafeteria Workers, Community Representatives and others providing essential student services. We share a deeply personal commitment to student success. Nearly 50% of us are also parents of school-aged children and 70% of us are graduates of LAUSD schools.

Together, we are lifting our schools and raising our communities.

Our Mission

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; build power for ourselves; 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 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.

Our History

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.
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. We are fighting for better wages and working conditions, regular hours, the elimination of split shifts, job safety, seniority, health and retirement benefits, and protecting workers’ hours. We slowly gain more classifications, adding to the custodians and gardeners who originally start our union. One of our early Secretary Treasurers, Ed Bratrud, will 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 labor-friendly candidates 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. In 1968, we win fully-paid health care. We purchase our current union hall 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 in our union, including forming special clubs and planning more recreational activities together, such as annual Christmas parties and Las Vegas trips. 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, 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 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 organize Teacher Assistants. The result: another 8,000 members and strength for a new group of workers. In 1989, with regained strength, we easily win an election requiring every bargaining unit member to pay their fair share to support our work.
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, organizing brings 4,300 Supervision and Playground Aides into the local.
In 2000, we win key contractual agreements in Lynwood and Torrance. 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 are currently negotiating their first contract. In 2007, 2,300 LAUSD cafeteria workers win health care benefits. In 2008, Local 99 launches its Member Resource Center, which utilizes a computer database to track grievances, hearings, and all other member business.
We strengthen our union. 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. We also launch the OASIS pilot program, which brings needed public and private services to LAUSD schools for students and their families. Head Start and Early Educators at MAOF establish a Labor Management Committee, giving us a voice in everyday operations decisions. Workers at The Accelerated School, an independent charter school, win our first labor union contract. Then later, we successfully fight off attempts to contract out our jobs. Local 99 members at LAUSD and the Los Angeles Community College District strengthen their Steward Councils. As a result, LACCD reduces write-ups and grievances by 50%. At Compton Unified, we stop the frivolous transfers of cafeteria staff.

We 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 our fight pays off: we push Santa Monica voters to pass Measures Y and YY; we win a huge upset victory when California voters—against all expectations—pass Governor Brown’s Proposition 30, reversing years of cuts to education. This leads to an immediate rescission of 10 furlough days at LAUSD. We also win a new simple majority rule for passage of the state’s budget. Our efforts, including our work to elect President Obama and our contributions to the Committee on Political Education (COPE) fund continue to pay-off: Obama 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. Later, Local 99 members at Lynwood Unified march in the streets and speak out at school board meetings to successfully fight off proposed increases to the cost of family health care benefits. We engage in actions to support the Occupy Wall Street movement, fighting against the growing inequality in America. We win California Senate Bill 1234, which begins to plan for a retirement security solution for those of us without employer-based retirement benefits. Our support for Obama again pays off as he takes executive action to fix our broken immigration system despite Congress’ inaction.

Who We Represent

K-12 Education

Los Angeles Unified School District
Lynwood Unified School District
Torrance Unified School District
Compton Unified School District
Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District
Hacienda La Puente Unified School District
Pleasant Valley School District
The Accelerated School

Early Education

Options, Inc.
Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF)

Higher Education

Los Angeles Community College District
Ventura County Community College District

Los Angeles County
Office of Education

Family Child Care Providers