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Today is not just International Workers’ Day – it’s also Worthy Wage Day

Photo: Child Care Providers United
Today is not just International Workers’ Day – it’s also Worthy Wage Day
By AFSCME Staff ·

You probably already know that today is International Workers’ Day. But did you know it’s also Worthy Wage Day?

Worthy Wage Day is a national day of action to call attention to the low wages earned by early childhood educators, such as family child care providers, and the need to adequately compensate these essential workers. It has been celebrated in the United States on or around May 1 for the past three decades.

AFSCME is the union for more than 50,000 child care providers across the country, including California, New York, New Jersey, Oregon and Pennsylvania. In California alone, 40,000 child care providers are members of United Domestic Workers (UDW/AFSCME Local 3930).

Through their strong union, child care providers have made important inroads in recent years in their struggle to improve their wages and job benefits, as well as receive the dignity and respect they deserve. These victories include a collective bargaining contract with a grievance procedure, higher wages, a training fund to expand worker opportunities and the creation of joint labor management committees.

But more needs to be done.

As Nancy Gonzalez, a family child care provider from Modesto, California, and a UDW member, told Congress last year, our country’s child care system is in crisis.

“It pains me to say that our country takes child care for granted,” she testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. “Our child care system is broken – for families who need care and for the underpaid, mostly Black and Brown women, like me, who are the majority of child care providers.”

Across the country, child care providers earn poverty-level wages, with many having to rely on public assistance to make ends meet. In addition, the pandemic further eroded an already shrinking child care workforce and, as a result, many working families were left scrambling to find reliable child care.

Last month, care workers from across the country – including family child care providers and home care providers – held the first-ever summit in Washington, D.C. President Joe Biden signed a major executive order to improve care for working families and support care workers.

While these are important milestones in the struggle of child care providers to receive the pay and benefits they have earned – and the dignity and respect they deserve – more needs to be done. After all, by caring for our children, child care providers make all other work possible. They help support our entire economy.

Worthy Wage Day is an important reminder that it’s past time these essential workers were compensated fairly.

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