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Employees at South L.A. charter school join union

June 2, 2009 |  7:28 pm

Cafeteria workers, classroom aides, janitors and other employees have unionized at the Accelerated School, the first independent charter to be represented by Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union, the union announced Tuesday. 

Non-teaching employees, who include more than a dozen parents, voted to organize by a margin of more than a 75%. The school’s acceptance of the union means that contract negotiations can begin.

Earlier this year, teachers at the South L.A. school joined United Teachers Los Angeles -- a similar first for that union. Both labor organizations represent thousands of employees at traditional Los Angeles Unified schools, but have been shut out of independent charter schools. The school system now has more charters than any other in the nation.

Instructional assistant Jesse Anguiano, who works about 35 hours a week, supported the union in part so he could obtain health benefits and sick days, he said.

Accelerated has been roiled by discord in recent months. Recently, hundreds of students staged a sit-in during school hours to protest the expected dismissal of teachers and others, including some who have criticized school administrators. The school has attributed the layoffs and firings to budget and performance issues.

-- Howard Blume