October 30, 2009
Approximately 2,600 family child care providers statewide have won a place at the table and can now speak with one powerful voice after voting to join Child Care Providers Together (CCPT)/New Mexico, an affiliate of AFSCME Council 18.
The providers, who care for children whose parents are eligible for state child care assistance, began their quest to form a union three years ago. Their first victory was this April, when Gov. Bill Richardson (D) signed a new law allowing both registered and licensed providers to be represented by a labor organization.
Their second victory – achieved last week – was to certify Child Care Providers Together (CCPT)/New Mexico as their union representative. To accomplish it, providers reached out to others to explain the process and encourage them to mail in their ballots.
Through phone calls and door-knocking, registered child care provider Sylvia Ruiz of Las Cruces spread the union message of power through unity. When providers try to deal with the state on their own, she explains, “nobody listens to you, so we have to stick together to voice our concerns about what we want. When we went to them in numbers, the officials said, ‘OK, sit down.”’
The new union members want more benefits and pay, says Ruiz. “We’re only making about $4 to $6 per day per child, but we have these kids more than the parents do. I have mothers who are nurses, so they’re working 12-hour shifts.”
State-licensed provider Nancy Mosier and her husband, Michael, also found time to build their union – even while they operated a group home for 12 children in Raton, a small city in northeast New Mexico. Nancy says they wanted to help organize providers because they deserve to be treated with respect, like state employees.
Once approached to join the union, she says, “We were interested immediately. We wanted the right to speak out on what we need as professional day care providers.” Having a collective voice through Child Care Providers Together/New Mexico was the way to get that right.
In addition to New Mexico, AFSCME represents approximately 150,000 family child care providers in California, Iowa,Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.