Big union-dues boost for AFSCME

About 17,000 home-based child care providers will join the Civil Service Employees Association as a result of a lopsided pro-union vote, state officials said Friday.

Officials with the State Employment Relations Board said that 3,723 child care providers had voted to unionize, while 161 had voted against. National union leaders applauded the move. “Today, 17,000 day care workers in New York added their voice to the national cry for change,” said John J. Sweeney, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. “They said the best way for working families to bring change is to form unions.”

These child care providers as well as 35,000 others in New York are able to unionize because Gov. Eliot Spitzer signed an executive order last May giving home-based child care providers in the state the right to form unions and bargain collectively. Previously, these workers were generally viewed as independent contractors without the right to unionize, but Governor Spitzer, at the urging of organized labor, signed the executive order, and now the state will bargain with unions representing these workers.

In October, 28,000 child care providers joined the United Federation of Teachers, the teachers’ union in New York City, as part of another overwhelming pro-union vote. And last year 7,500 other child care providers joined the Civil Service Employees Association, which is the largest New York State affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The Civil Service Employees Association said the biggest problems for child care providers were efficient delivery of county child care funds, receiving higher pay and ensuring that providers are paid on time.

“This should definitely benefit child care providers,” said Diane Madej, who cares for five children at her home in Amsterdam, N.Y. She says she receives about $30,000 a year in child care fees, but after paying for food, educational supplies and utilities, she makes less than $20,000 a year — and that is for working from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. five days a week.

“Hopefully, this will help us get better pay and benefits,” said Ms. Madej, who said she does not receive the vacation, sick days or other benefits that many workers do.


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