Laborers 42 custodians at St. Louis Public Schools win higher wages, bonuses in new three-year contract

ST. LOUIS PUBLIC SCHOOLS CUSTODIANS, who have been working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to keep schools safe for students and staff, have won a new contract that includes significant raises, bonuses and an increase to the district’s starting wage from $11.42 an hour to $13. – KSDK screencap

St. Louis Public Schools custodians, members of Laborers Local 42, have overwhelmingly ratified an agreement with the district that includes a one-time bonus, raises over the course of the three-year contract and an increase to the district’s entry-level wage to $15 an hour.

The new agreement, negotiated over 10 months and ratified by district custodians on April 17, will run through the 2022-2023 school year.

“It was a tremendous victory,” said Local 42 Recording Secretary Brian Watson. “We stuck to our guns and we batted a thousand.”

Per the agreement, district custodians will receive a one-time bonus on April 30, 2021, based on length of employment:

  • $1,800 if hired before Oct. 16, 2020.
  • $600 if hired after Oct. 16, 2020 and before Dec. 15, 2020.

All custodians will also receive scheduled raises:

  • Four percent, starting with the May 14, 2021 paycheck.
  • Three percent in July 2021.
  • Three percent in July 2022.

In addition, custodians will benefit from increases to the district’s minimum wage, which exceed state requirements. The District minimum wage increased to $13 an hour from the previous entry wage of $11.42 an hour with the ratification of the agreement, and will increase annually to $14 and then $15 over the course of the contract.

“The $15 an hour will go into effect over a period of time, but sooner if the federal government makes the $15 minimum mandatory” as called for in the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, Watson said.

Rich McLaughlin, assistant business manager and president of Local 42, said the district worked well with the union, resulting in a contract that recognizes the custodians’ hard and essential work.

“These guys have been working every day through this pandemic,” McLaughlin said. “As schools have gone on through the pandemic, they have worked to keep students and staff safe from COVID-19.”


The school district currently employs 197 full-time custodians and anticipates hiring more before the start of the next school year. If you know of someone who would be interested in a position with the district, refer them to


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