California child care providers have overwhelmingly voted to unionize.
We have seen an explosion of union activities in the United States since the start of the pandemic, and this is because employers have shown themselves to be completely disinterested in the well-being of their employees, which leaves a union as the only way that those workers can protect themselves:
Today California child care providers announced they have voted to be represented by the statewide child care provider union, Child Care Providers United. This result, which comes after providers succeeded in their 17-year battle to win authorizing legislation from the state, gives care providers the ability to bargain together for higher pay, better training, and the kind of improvements that mean their families will no longer have to struggle just to pay for necessities. With an overwhelming vote for CCPU, the 45,000 family child care providers will gain official recognition and bargaining rights with the state of California.
The 97% CCPU yes vote also comes as child care providers are increasingly recognized for their essential role in California’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and its widespread economic fallout.
Child care providers, many over the age of 55, have continued to work daily, providing essential early learning for the children of grocery store clerks, nurses, and other frontline workers. At the same time, they’ve faced added financial pressure from reduced enrollment. Providers said winning this union election means they will have a strong platform from which to work with the state to keep their home-based child care businesses open to parents who are counting on them now more than ever. The pandemic has also revealed the need for providers to have a voice to bargain for the kind of training and protective equipment needed to keep their families and those they care for safe.
For a workforce that is mostly women and 74% people of color, succeeding in winning union representation is also a significant step forward in their fight for racial justice for their own families and the young people they educate. Last Monday, providers in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco led children in their care in art projects and discussions on the theme of racial justice as part of the Strike for Black lives, calling on the government to value each child equally, whether brown, Black, white, API or Native American. Doing so, they said, requires rebalancing the economy and creating opportunity for children of color by ensuring corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share so our communities can invest in early care and education.
Today’s vote culminates providers’ decades-long fight for union rights. Last fall, after many years of being denied the rights that other workers have — the right to form a union and bargain for higher pay, family-sustaining benefits, and other improvements — the legislature passed and Governor Newsom signed into law AB 378 (Limón) which enables child care providers to bargain for important, lasting improvements to the child care system.
The vote was a mail-in secret ballot election conducted by the American Arbitration Association under the direction of the California Public Employment Board. Family child care providers have been working to win their rights since 2003 by organizing in their communities, forming their union, and working with elected officials.
It took 15 years for the legislature to grant basic labor rights to child healthcare workers.
That’s 15 years too long.