Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Room 8, The Albany Project, Daily Gotham and Blogs United 8/1/2007

Front page blog post at Room 8 and The Albany Project:

Major Union Drive in NYC
by: SteveUFT

(The story of these home health care workers has been one of the most inspiring stories in recent memory. Great diary. - promoted by phillip anderson)

28,000 home day care workers in New York City are one step closer to joining the United Federation of Teachers.

Home day care workers in New York receive government subsidies to watch, care for, and educate children from low-income families in pre-school and after-school settings. They provide meals and snacks, direct safe play, and change diapers. They also play a role in educating the children in their care, helping with reading and helping young kids learn colors and numbers and older kids with homework.

Pretty important work, right?

In New York City, home day care workers make an average salary of less than $19,000 a year with no pension, health insurance or paid sick days. That makes them among the lowest-paid workers in the region.

Read more to find out what we're doing about it.

The UFT and the community group ACORN have been working together to unionize home day care workers for about two years. Why is this significant? It's the largest organizing drive in New York in decades. Why the United Federation of Teachers? I'll let UFT Vice President Michelle Bodden explain, in this quote from a guest post at Firedoglake:

"What does this mean for the UFT? Our union undertook the drive to unionize home child care providers for two main reasons - educationally, this is an extraordinary opportunity to work with children's first teachers. Providers see children before they come into the public school system, and many of them want to prepare those children for success. Early grade teachers have a good sense of the skills and background experiences that make the most difference with young children. It is a natural mesh to combine the providers with the public school teachers and create a seamless transition for youngsters with the best preparation possible.

The UFT Teachers Center offers free classes for providers on infant/toddler development through preschoolers. The classes are extremely popular because providers want to learn more about creating high quality educational environments — they want their youngsters to succeed. Eventually, we can create a real leveling of the playing field — making a pathway for low-income students to gain the kind of rich vocabulary and other prerequisites that bode for success in school and in life.

The other reason is exactly the same as the reason why this is a great event for the union movement in general: It is our mission to improve the lives of working people, not just the members we have now, but all working people. Many of the gains of labor, from the minimum wage to a defined workweek, extend to millions of workers who are not in unions."

After counting union cards from more than 12,000 home day care workers, the New York State Employment Relations Board has certified that the UFT and ACORN have surpassed the margin required for the workers to hold an election to join a union. In the words of UFT President Randi Weingarten, "This is a critical milestone in the journey to get New York City's 28,000 home day care providers the respect and wages they need and give the children in their watch the care they deserve."

The next step is for the State Employment Relations Board to schedule an election; we expect that election to take place in late August.

The key to this election will be getting the word out so people know when they need to vote. Rallies, phonebanking and door-to-door campaigning will all play a part, but sites like The Albany Project can help by talking about the election to raise its profile and get more people talking. So let's get the word out!

Also, front page quick hits at Daily Gotham and Blogs United