July 29, 2020
In a union election victory 17 years in the making, child care providers across California have voted overwhelmingly to be represented by their union, Child Care Providers United (CCPU). A joint effort of UDW/AFSCME Local 3930 and SEIU Locals 99 and 521, 97% of voters chose to join CCPU.
“This has been a long time coming,” UDW Assistant Executive Director and AFSCME Vice President Johanna Hester said Monday. “This win gives 40,000 family child care providers in California the opportunity to bargain for higher pay, better training and increased access to care for every child who needs it.”
In September, providers celebrated Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of the Building a Better Early Care and Education System Act (AB 378), which gave them collective bargaining rights and the freedom to organize under the banner of CCPU. That kickstarted what was the largest union organizing drive in the country so far this century.
In a virtual press conference held on Zoom and streamed live via Facebook, the new CCPU members came together to celebrate and share what this victory means to them.
“People think of us as just ‘babysitters,’ but we’re so much more than that,” said longtime activist and child care provider Miren Algorri of Chula Vista. “We’re educators. Essential workers. We’re putting our lives on the line to care for these kids. Our union means we can fight for the respect and dignity that we deserve.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, child care workers have provided essential care for some of the state’s most critical workforces. Many providers are even putting their health at risk to remain open to ensure front-line workers can keep fighting this pandemic.
The child care workforce in California is also made up primarily of women of color, making this historic election a step forward in the fight for gender equity and racial justice, not just for the providers but also for the children and families they serve.
“This seat at the table means everything for the economic security and livelihoods of providers, the working families they serve and for the affordable, accessible child care system that California needs to rebuild its economy,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders, who joined CCPU for the virtual press conference to deliver his congratulations.
“This is not just a victory for union rights and economic justice. As a movement led by women of color, today’s win is also an important step in the march toward gender justice and racial justice,” Saunders added. “It is also a reminder, especially at a time when it can be tempting to throw up our hands and give up, that joining a union can help solve America’s deep-seated problems of racial and economic inequality.”
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