L.A. Schools Mull Health Benefits for All Cafeteria Workers
Two members of the Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday will introduce a proposal to extend health care coverage to all cafeteria workers in the school district at a cost of $45 million annually, the Los Angeles Times reports.
About 2,400 of the estimated 5,000 cafeteria workers in the district are eligible for health care benefits, while the rest do not qualify because they work less than four hours daily.
The proposal would shift all cafeteria worker shifts to at least four hours daily. While the total number of jobs likely would decrease, all workers would have health care benefits.
Supporters argue that the proposal also might lower costs of work-related injuries among cafeteria workers, saying that some workers file such claims as their only option for obtaining medical care.
Supporters hope the proposal would pay for itself because more students would be inclined to eat lunch if served by a more stable and better-trained work force, according to the Times. The school currently receives $20 million from students who pay for their own food and $220 million in government food aid.
Senior staff members in a recent presentation said, "The cafeteria fund cannot absorb a $40 million increase in costs, even with greater participation and more efficiencies."
The members also said that "raising hours of just one class of employees for other than operational reasons would appear to be singling out this group for favored treatment ... This step would open the door to all other unions demanding to increase hours in order to receive benefits" (Blume, Los Angeles Times, 7/10).