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Care workers are having a moment. It’s about time.

Photo Credit: UDW / AFSCME Local 3930
Care workers are having a moment. It’s about time.
By AFSCME Staff ·

For decades, the workers who care for the nation’s children, older adults and people with disabilities have fought for dignity, respect and workplace rights. Finally, this month, their efforts are receiving fresh momentum, and they are reaping the respect they deserve.

First, former Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a $775 billion plan on July 21 to build a robust, modern caregiving and education workforce.

Then, on Monday, 40,000 child care providers in California won an election and said they will be forming  a union through Child Care Providers United, a joint effort by AFSCME and SEIU. They succeeded after trying for 17 years, making it the nation’s largest union organizing drive so far this century.

Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president who has secured AFSCME’s endorsement, has put forth a comprehensive proposal that will cover care for children, older adults and disabled family members.

Biden’s plan would:

AFSCME President Lee Saunders praised Biden’s plan, saying it would lift up “underappreciated, underpaid and overworked” care workers who perform some of “society's most indispensable jobs” and allow them to build power on the job.  

“Under a Biden administration, these workers – predominantly women and people of color – will get the respect they deserve for their selfless service to some of our most vulnerable people. And families will get the peace of mind of knowing that they can go to work while their preschooler is in a safe learning environment and their elderly parents are receiving professional, dignified care,” Saunders said in a statement.

An overwhelming 97% of California child care providers voted to be represented by their union, Child Care Providers United (CCPU), a joint effort between UDW/AFSCME Local 3930 and SEIU Locals 99 and 521.

Meanwhile, AFSCME is urging members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote for two child care bills introduced in that chamber.

H.R. 7027 is the Child Care is Essential Act, sponsored by Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro. It would provide $50 billion to stabilize the child care sector and help working parents afford child care. H.R. 7327 is the Child Care for Economic Recovery Act, sponsored by New York Rep. Nita Lowey. That bill would, among other things, expand the child and dependent care tax credit, provide tax relief to employers that offer child and dependent care benefits to their workers, and increase funding to states to make sure essential workers have child care.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 12 million children under 5 years of age were in child care. Now, 60% of programs nationwide are closed, AFSCME noted in a letter to House members, adding that child care funding included in previous coronavirus relief legislation was simply not enough.

“Together, both of these bills would ensure that child care providers have the resources to safely operate, including to reopen when appropriate, and for parents to have the support to get back to work and contribute to a strengthening economy,” AFSCME wrote.

Both bills passed the House on Wednesday with bipartisan support.

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