The Long Beach Unified School District has reached a tentative agreement with the Long Beach chapter of the California School Employees Association on a new contract, ending a year-long dispute that included threats of a strike.

The agreement comes days after the California Public Employee Relations Board issued a fact-finding report that stated that the district was fair in its compensation offer to the CSEA.

The LBUSD is the city’s largest employer and the CSEA is its second-largest union, after the Teachers Association of Long Beach. The CSEA represents more than 2,000 workers in the district, including maintenance workers, bus drivers, nutrition services, custodians, and others.

The agreement includes a 3% raise, with 1% retroactive to July 2019 and 2% retroactive to July 2020, as well as a 2% one-time payment based on earnings from 2020-21. The compensation package is what the district had previously offered CSEA, an offer that the union’s membership said didn’t recognize their front-line efforts to implement COVID-19 safety measures and to help re-open schools.

“I’m pleased to report that our school district and CSEA have reached a tentative agreement that would provide CSEA members a well-deserved raise comparable to the same salary increases that our teachers and other employees have received,” Superintendent Jill A. Baker said in a statement. “I want to thank our classified employees for their patience as we have worked diligently to follow the formal bargaining process.”

The agreement is not final, as the LBUSD Board of Education still needs to approve it, as does the CSEA membership. But after months of impasse and talks of a strike, today’s tentative agreement is the most significant progress made toward finalizing a deal.

The PERB report drew a clear line in the sand that the state felt the district had been fair in the raise that had been offered to the CSEA employees. Short of a strike, that leaves few options to the CSEA.

“We’re pleased,” said LBUSD spokesperson Chris Eftychiou earlier this week after the release of the PERB report. “The report affirms that our salary proposal is consistent with our history of maintaining an above average compensation ranking among comparable districts.”

Many CSEA members to attend the joint rally with TALB this afternoon before tonight’sLBUSD Board of Education meeting. The district and TALB are still in talks about a new contract, with compensation the largest point still to be decided.

LBUSD, teachers union hit snag over pay negotiations