For Immediate Release
Contact: Natalia Pérez Santos

California family child care providers win union election in landslide victory

Largest Union Election in Two Decades; Positions Diverse Workforce to Fight for an Equitable Recovery for Every California Child

Today California child care providers announced they have voted to be represented by the statewide child care provider union, Child Care Providers United. This result, which comes after providers succeeded in their 17-year battle to win authorizing legislation from the state, gives care providers the ability to bargain together for higher pay, better training, and the kind of improvements that mean their families will no longer have to struggle just to pay for necessities. With an overwhelming vote for CCPU, the 45,000 family child care providers will gain official recognition and bargaining rights with the state of California.

“After so many years of struggle, I am happy we have finally certified our union. After so many bills vetoed, trips to Sacramento, and providers who have come and gone, we are finally ready to begin negotiating for a better early care system for providers, our communities, and the children in our care,” said Zoila Carolina Toma of Signal Hill.

The 97% CCPU yes vote also comes as child care providers are increasingly recognized for their essential role in California’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and its widespread economic fallout.

“COVID-19 showed the world just how essential child care is,” said Shuante Brown, a provider in San Diego. “It forced many providers to put their own health at risk to ensure that frontline workers could do their jobs so that our economy kept moving.”

Child care providers, many over the age of 55, have continued to work daily, providing essential early learning for the children of grocery store clerks, nurses, and other frontline workers. At the same time, they’ve faced added financial pressure from reduced enrollment. Providers said winning this union election means they will have a strong platform from which to work with the state to keep their home-based child care businesses open to parents who are counting on them now more than ever. The pandemic has also revealed the need for providers to have a voice to bargain for the kind of training and protective equipment needed to keep their families and those they care for safe.

“Through good and bad times, including this pandemic, the doors of my home have remained open for families in need of a nurturing and safe place to educate their little ones, because the weight of a pandemic shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of children. Instead, they should have all of us, and especially our elected officials, to look up to when it comes to making the right decisions, including committing to equity.” said Patricia Moran, a child care provider in San Jose.

“California can afford to pay providers more and dedicate more resources to increase access for low-income children--even in this economic crisis. California can’t afford not to step up.  We’re the 5th largest economy in the world and the billionaires in this state have increased their wealth by nearly $200 billion dollars just since the pandemic began.” said Nancy Harvey, a provider in Oakland.

For a workforce that is mostly women and 74% people of color, succeeding in winning union representation is also a significant step forward in their fight for racial justice for their own families and the young people they educate. Last Monday, providers in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco led children in their care in art projects and discussions on the theme of racial justice as part of the  Strike for Black lives, calling on the government to value each child equally, whether brown, Black, white, API or Native American. Doing so, they said, requires rebalancing the economy and creating opportunity for children of color by ensuring corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share so our communities can invest in early care and education.

“We are paving the way for social and economic justice,” said Alicia Turner, a family child care provider from Stanislaus County. “This victory is proof that when women, and women of color lead a movement, it can and will make history, and we did just that.”

Today’s vote culminates providers’ decades-long fight for union rights. Last fall, after many years of being denied the rights that other workers have — the right to form a union and bargain for higher pay, family-sustaining benefits, and other improvements — the legislature passed and Governor Newsom signed into law AB 378 (Limón) which enables child care providers to bargain for important, lasting improvements to the child care system.

The vote was a mail-in secret ballot election conducted by the American Arbitration Association under the direction of the California Public Employment Board. Family child care providers have been working to win their rights since 2003 by organizing in their communities, forming their union, and working with elected officials.

“Congratulations to the front line sheroes who made this happen through your tenacity, your grit, your determination, your devotion, your constancy to the cause of not only professionalizing a workforce and improving the quality of your own lives, but improving the lives of millions and millions of people who will benefit. Organizing is about the power of many, not the power of one, but it’s also about the power of purpose and you had a purposefulness behind this effort. And you had a moral authority and now you have the formal authority enshrined in this historic vote.” - Gavin Newsom, Governor of California

Congratulations, family child care providers! Your 17 years of persistent advocacy for young children and for your profession has finally resulted in securing the same important rights that most other workers enjoy--the right to self-organize and to negotiate on work agreements. Your voice, your union, your dedication will be critical factors in rebuilding a strong child care system through this pandemic. I am proud to have played a role to make the union happen and look forward to continuing to work with you so that the children of all working people will be able to learn, grow and flourish in the years to come. - Assemblymember Monique Limon

“This seat at the table means everything for the economic security and livelihoods of providers, the working families they serve and for the affordable, accessible child care system that California needs to rebuild its economy. This is not just a victory for union rights and economic justice. As a movement led by women of color, today’s win is also an important step in the march toward gender justice and racial justice. It is also a reminder, especially at a time when it can be tempting to throw up our hands and give up, that joining a Union can help solve America’s deep-seated problems of racial and economic inequality.” - Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME International

“It should not take 17 years to form a union. SEIU members across the country are determined to elect leaders who will see, hear, and listen to working people and rewrite the rules to give all service and care workers the right to join together in unions to negotiate for better pay and a better life.” - Mary Kay Henry, SEIU International President

“This has been a long time coming. This win gives 40,000 family child care providers in California the opportunity to bargain for higher pay, better training, and increased access to care for every child who needs it.” - Johanna Hester, UDW Assistant Executive Director.

“At this moment, when the country has exploded with a demand for racial and gender justice, tens of thousands of family child care providers, who are mostly women of color, came together to win their union, Child Care Providers United. Early educators are an integral part of our movement for quality public education, and racial justice. Now, with a seat at the table, providers will have a unified voice to raise a firm demand for positive and equitable change. Our vision is a world class early education and childcare system in which all children have access to excellent early education and all workers are valued.” - Max Arias, Executive Director, SEIU Local 99

“California’s family child care providers have shown persistence, resilience, strength, and have a well-deserved and long overdue huge victory to show for it. We can all learn from so many providers who have played a vital role in winning their union election. All children, families and workers stand to benefit when the profession of early educators and essential workers is recognized and valued. State and federal leaders must prioritize the future of our country and lead on the critical investments needed to support providers and the families they serve. We've always known how critical childcare providers are to the development of our families, and now, more than ever, they will again lead us to a recovery that ensures workers and families are part of an equitable economy. La unión hace la fuerza, ¡si se pudo!” - Riko Mendez, Chief Elected Officer SEIU Local 521

“Congratulations to the child care providers and union members who voted, rallied, testified, educated, and organized for years - all while taking care of little kids! We all win justice when we work in unity.  Inspired by and proud to work with you - Child Care Law Center

"Congratulations to Child Care Providers United for winning the election to represent family child care providers in CA!  Prior to the pandemic and especially during it, it has been family child care providers and family, friend, and neighbor providers who have stepped up and taken great risk to their own health to continue to serve essential working families when other programs were closing.  These providers, predominantly Black and Latina, low wage working women (and mothers themselves) have carried the burden of inaction, low wages, increased costs, lack of benefits for far too long.  Not anymore! Out of crisis comes opportunity and we are excited for the positive impact this union will have on our entire child care system". - Mary Ignatius, Parent Voices CA

“As President & CEO of the Child Care Resource Center I want to congratulate CCPU for being selected to represent California’s child care providers. Our agency looks forward to creating a strong working relation with the union.  Together we can ensure better working conditions for child care providers supporting children and families in our service area and across the state.” - Michael Olenick, CCRC

Child Care Providers United brings together 45,000 family child care providers across California and is a partnership of SEIU Locals 521 and 99 and UDW/AFSCME Local 3930.