SACRAMENTO, California – Parents, children, community partners and child care providers from Child Care Providers United California (UDW-CCPU) rallied Wednesday for the right to collectively bargain with the state and to use their voice to change California’s early childhood education system. The changes they seek include better access to child care for all California children and families.
“Child care providers have been fighting for collective bargaining rights for over 15 years,” said UDW Assistant Executive Director and AFSCME International Vice President Johanna Hester. “It’s time for California to take a stand to support not only this vital workforce, but the children in their care. Our kids deserve access to quality early childhood education.”
Citing the dire situation of child care in California, Charlotte Neal, a provider in Sacramento for over 17 years, said, “One million families who are eligible for state child care subsidies cannot access them. It is ridiculous.”
Neal added, “There’s no good reason why nearly 60% of the state’s child care workers should have to rely on government assistance programs to get by. There’s no good reason people should be driven out of this important profession by poverty wages – not having enough to pay rent, medical care, or food. We deserve better. Our children deserve better.”
The state’s child care providers are poised to make history this year as they push legislation that will allow them to negotiate with the state to strengthen early education for working families. If passed, AB 378 will lead to the largest single union organizing victory in two decades and the largest organizing campaign of child care providers in U.S. history.
The event took place on May Day, celebrated all over the world as International Workers Day, which spotlights the contributions of workers and presents an opportunity to highlight inequalities that working families face.
“We celebrate May Day to remember the long struggle for rights for working people,” AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride said during the rally. “It’s not enough to remember the struggle, but we also have to recommit to it. And that’s exactly what you’re doing by fighting to make sure every family in California has access to affordable, high quality child care, and providers have what they need to do this important work.”
Other speakers included Assembly Member Monique Limón of Santa Barbara, state Sen. Nancy Skinner of Berkeley, and child care workers with SEIU Locals 99, 521 and United Domestic Workers (UDW).