Letter to the Editor of the Week!
Elitist elements have been smearing workers' rights to unionize a lot lately. One obscene instance is the Business Council claiming that grossly underpayed daycare workers who are trying to fight for a humane wage are somehow trying to scam the state government. Exsqueeze me? You'll just have to turn to the New York Post to read the Biz Council's disinformation laden smear campaign against the people who care for New York's children. Edwize does a good blog post on background here.
For standing up to bullies and fighting for the rights of some of the most important yet underpaid and vulnerable workers, I salute not just the letter writers below but ALL daycare workers.
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DAY-CARE WORKERS DESERVE A FAIR WAGE
THE ISSUE: A proposed law to unionize New York's at-home day-care providers.
Why is trying to do something that will raise the wages of some of the lowest-paid workers in the region and give them basic health benefits always characterized as a "union giveaway" ("Union Giveaway," Robert B. Ward, Post- Opinion, June 1)?
Family day-care providers and the parents they serve are the very people who are trying to get off welfare and go to work, something Robert B. Ward's Business Council would no doubt support.
Instead, Ward asserts that forming a union would cut the number of providers, raise child-care costs and possibly mean a total loss of funding for the providers.
Four states have already agreed to let family day-care providers organize, and there has been no loss of funding.
Ward's implication that the providers would become state employees who are entitled to all civil-service benefits is wrong.
The legislation clearly says they shall not be considered state employees for any purpose other than the Taylor Law, which gives them the right to bargain collectively and bars them from striking.
Providers need a union to fight for them and provide professional development training that will not only help them but will also benefit parents and children as well.
United Federation of Teachers
Ward sounds the alarm to prepare the public for what he sees as the UFT's ploy of "boosting the state-employee nose count."
Why is he thumbing his nose at these productive and valuable employees?
These day-care providers are among the lowest-paid workers in the nation.
They give preschool children a head start on learning and socializing, yet they have no health benefits, pension plan or paid vacation.
Their average wage has been certified to be below the established federal poverty line.
Does Ward have a quarrel with the mission of these workers, or does he feel it's unwise public policy to provide them a living wage?
The plea of the workers is not greedy, and the UFT's support is not selfish.
They are not seeking a giveaway. They are calling for common sense and American decency.
I have been a home day-care provider for 15 years, and Ward's article made me furious.
There was no recognition of the valuable work that I do.
When I care for and educate these children, I can see the value of it in the light in their eyes.
We work very long hours for very little pay, and we are not able to take care of our own families.
We can't afford to adequately pay our assistants, and there is a very high turnover rate. This instability is bad for the children.
If we didn't have the power of the UFT behind us, we would have no power.
We want to continue to do the important work of preparing children for school, but we also need adequate compensation and the benefits due to all workers.
Giving us the right to unionize and bargain collectively will aid the economy rather than drain it, as Ward suggests.
We have no sick days, holiday pay, health coverage, vacations or pension.
We pay for supplies and often buy clothing for children who don't have gloves, hats or warm coats.
We donate food to parents who are in between checks, and we work on holidays to help those parents in the program who must work.
We do this repeatedly because the needy are just that - needy. And we are not compensated.
We are not overpaid babysitters. We are underpaid providers.
If we fail to support these children now by not improving child care, we are tearing down our future economy.
Nowhere in the bill does it say that child-care professionals covered under this bill, will become state employees; in fact, they will retain their independent-contractor status.
Also, under this bill they are not entitled to a state pension or state benefits.
Ward has no idea of the sacrifices that are made by the tens of thousands of women every day on behalf of our most precious commodity - our children.
I need a union to give me a voice.
A union would provide me with the perks other workers take for granted and guarantee that I get a modest wage.
I would be able to prepare for retirement, take a well-deserved vacation and obtain the best training available so that I can continue to provide the best care.
Ward admits that I provide a necessary public service but, in the same breath, denies that I should be compensated fairly for the work that I do.
I need a union to protect me from people like him.
Elana Levin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 10:52 AM, Jun 06, 2006 in Economic Opportunity | Education | Employment | Government Accountability | Labor | Letter To The Editor of the Week | New York | Racial Justice
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