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New York - Child Care Union Wins Victory

Marching For The Children - Thousands of child care workers, parents and advocates marched across the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this year to oppose the planned closure of daycare and Head Start centers and classrooms this summer.

Marching For The Children
Marching For The Children - Thousands of child care workers, parents and advocates marched across the Brooklyn Bridge earlier this year to oppose the planned closure of daycare and Head Start centers and classrooms this summer. Shown leading them are Raglan George, Jr., executive director of AFSCME's District Council 1707 and an International vice president, and DC 1707 Pres. Kim Medina. (Photo credit: Public Employee Press - DC 37)

Thousands of working families who faced the closure of their public center-based day care centers under a budget ax have renewed hope that the centers might be saved because of a new law pushed by District Council 1707 with the vigorous support of the national union.

The measure requires the city to give six months notice before closing any of the centers, giving the union a chance to stop it with the help of parents and other supporters.

“For our members, their families and working families of New York City who need safe, quality and affordable childcare, this bill was a milestone and essential to preserving the nation’s most comprehensive public center-based day care system,” says DC 1707 Exec. Dir. Raglan George, Jr., also an AFSCME International vice president.

The legislation was strenuously opposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R), whose administration has worked aggressively to undermine public daycare since he took office in 2001. Under his reign, workers have gone many years without contracts, and more recently, the mayor has tried to steer child care towards more expensive private centers and to close down public facilities.

The city managed to stall the bill in the state Assembly, but DC 1707 officials enlisted the support of AFSCME International Sec.-Treasurer Lee Saunders, who persistently lobbied the Assembly speaker — and later, Gov. David Paterson (D) — on behalf of the daycare workers. Paterson signed the bill in August.

DC 1707 has been fighting for the daycare workers for years. The union represents more than 6,000 members of Local 205 who work in over 350 child care centers throughout the city, and approximately 2,000 Head Start employees at some 200 centers. They are represented by Local 95.

Earlier this year, 2,000 parents, children, supporters and members of DC 1707 marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to demand that officials of the city’s Administration for Children’s Services drop plans to close 16 public center-based day care centers and 124 day care classrooms, affecting at least 3,600 children.

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