60,000 NY Child Care Providers Gain a Voice and Respect

May 22, 2007

Nearly 60,000 child care providers in New York will finally get a voice on the job thanks to an executive order just signed by Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D). Providers have been fighting to improve New York’s child care system since 2002, when they formed their own organization – the Voice of Organized Independent Childcare Educators (VOICE) with the Civil Services Employees Association (CSEA)/AFSCME Local 1000. Both AFSCME and the American Federation of Teachers are working with providers in their effort to form unions under the new executive order.

“This could not have come at a more critical time for thousands of New York’s family child care providers,” says CSEA Pres. Danny Donohue, who is also an International vice president. “These providers play a critical role in keeping New York’s families working and our economy moving.”

CSEA has already filed for certification with the New York State Employment Relations Board to organize over 7,000 registered family and licensed group family child care providers across the state. The union expects to organize 25,000 providers statewide.

“By building a strong statewide organization, we will no longer be underestimated or taken for granted,” explains Colleen Dawson-Williams, a VOICE founding member and Schenectady resident.

Spitzer signed the executive order nearly a year after his predecessor George Pataki (R) vetoed a bill from the state legislature granting collective bargaining rights to child care providers. This landmark victory – which garnered news coverage from The New York TimesNewsday and the Albany Times Union among other news media – paves the way for providers to address numerous concerns including funding, access to affordable health care and input on regulations affecting their work.

New York now joins a growing list of states where child care providers are organizing unions with AFSCME, includingCaliforniaIowaKansasMichiganMinnesotaNew JerseyNew MexicoOhioOregonPennsylvania and Wisconsin.

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