Tag Archives: SEIU

Rhode Island to unionize daycare workers

Last week, the Rhode Island legislature passed a law to permit daycare workers who receive any subsidies from the state to either form a union, or join an existing union such as the SEIU. While they would not be eligible for state pensions or health benefits, and not permitted to strike, the law allows workers to collectively bargain over subsidies, training and professional development and “other economic matters.”

Daycare workers represent a target population for unions. A new law in Minnesota permits daycare workers to unionize so home providers can advocate for higher subsidy payments from the state. In New York in 2010, Governor Paterson pushed for daycare workers to pay union dues to the teachers’ unions in his 2011 budget proposal.

With Rhode Island in the mix, 17 states now permit or strongly encourage daycare workers to unionize. In the rush to unionize private business owners, the ostensible benefits – a voice in the legislature to lobby for higher state subsidies – are touted – and the costs are ignored For example, in Massachusetts, if a private daycare owner accepts clients who pay with state daycare vouchers, the daycare provider must be represented by a union and pay dues. These dues are skimmed off of the state subsidy for low-income parents which is paid directly to the daycare provider. To avoid unionization, the provider would have to turn away low-income families who receive state subsidies for childcare.

The SEIU claims unionization will improve the quality of childcare and offers economic justice for workers. But, the most dramatic result seems to be this:  where daycare workers unionize, the SEIU immediately gains a windfall of new dues transferred from a program meant to help low-income families pay for daycare, (to the tune of $28 million in Michigan, where similar legislation was recently passed).

As James Shrek writes in National Review, one of the more remarkable things about this effort is that it represents a new strategy by unions. The target group for unionization are private individuals or business owners who are also the recipients of government benefits. For instance, at one point in Michigan, a parent receiving Medicaid to care for a disabled child could receive SEIU representation. Some parents found the only result was a reduction in their monthly Medicaid payments and no representation, effectively, “forcing disadvantaged families to pay union dues out of their government benefits.”

As Shrek notes, the Minnesota law, which authorizes AFSCME to unionize in-home daycare providers, also potentially covers short-term summer camps, and grandparents watching their grandkids, or “relative care.”

Shrek asks, does this tactic represent a sign of desperation on the part of unions who are actively seeking new members to the point of organizing, “unions of one”? With a growing number of states joining the trend, it is worth watching how these laws affect those people and families that the unions are claiming to help.

 

 

 

 

Daycare unionization debate in Minnesota

A debate has been taking place in Minnesota over whether in-home day care providers should be able to unionize. Unionization of self-employed individuals raises a few questions. With whom do they negotiate? In other words, “How can you be the employer [the business owner] and a union employee?” According to the pro-unionization providers their complaint is not with the parent-client but with the state (and county) and its regulations. A provider may be cited for any number of small infractions such as not having a cover on a trash cash. When cited, in the case of Minnesota, such a blemish doesn’t just stay on the provider’s record, it must be posted on the owner’s front door for two years.

But is unionization the answer?

Daycare providers already have a state association to represent their interests. Few owners have actually been cited under these regulations. And unionization will result in dues that will raise prices for parents, as well as more state involvement in the owner’s business. An effort to stop unionization is also underway.

Since 2005, 15 states have organized childcare providers. The main fiscal outcome of daycare unionization is higher state-provided subsidies.

Washington state child care providers are represented by the SEIU which negotiates with Olympia over subsidy rates for providers as well as health insurance plans.

In 2009, providers in Washington received a state subsidy between $18 and $40 a day, per child, depending on the county. According to the SEIU’s 2009-2011 agreement with the state, both parents and providers are affected. Daycare providers who refuse to join the union for religious reasons must still pay dues. Rates are set for different age groups of children, (e.g. Infants are 15% higher than the Toddler/Preschool rate). After ten hours of childcare any additional hour is equal to one half day of child care.

The agreement also affects all taxpayers in the state. The state pays monthly contributions to provider’s health care plan ($588.8 per month per provider in 2010) for a total of $366,894 per month for all daycare providers. A further $175,000 is set aside by the state for training classes for providers. The result of unionization is not what advocates suggest. Instead flexibility is decreased for owners and clients to come to terms over hours, rates and arrangements while the ever-increasing costs are passed to everyone.