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Our Road to Empowerment
Tammie Miller, Chapter Chair, UFT Child Care Providers Chapter
Our first efforts were to demonstrate to the state elected officials that childcare providers have problems and there is strong support for forming a union. We proved this by collecting more than 6,000 union card signatures of the 32,000 child care workers citywide in a three-month period. With the help of the UFT and ACORN, we lobbied the state legislature to pass a law stating that childcare providers have the right to form a union. We were elated to learn that the Senate passed the bill 61-0 in March and the Assembly passed it 108-34 in April. Shortly thereafter the bill reached Governor Pataki’s desk, as we lobbied and rallied outside his office to impress upon him to sign the executive order that would allow us to organize.
To our profound disappointment, Pataki vetoed the bill for reasons that were insensitive to the thousands of providers who render child care to the working class citizens of New York State.
Fortunately for us, we have formidable allies that support us in our organizing efforts. Thanks to the invaluable support of the UFT, ACORN, Working Families Party, and local ministers and members of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, we were able to get the override from the Senate. While we wait patiently for the Assembly to reconvene and decide on the bill, we are in the process of collecting the necessary 15,000 signatures needed on union cards, which would allow us to legally become a union.
The UFT-ACORN movement to organize has already proven beneficial; as 35 providers have received back pay totaling $138,000 from HRA and ACS. We’ve cut the waiting time on replacement checks from 120 days to 30 days, if the provider uses direct deposit; and we’ve launched a pilot program through City Council called Providers Choice, which would reimburse out-of-pocket expenses for thousands of providers for $150.
We forge ahead knowing we are but a few steps away from historically improving the quality of child care for generations to come. This website serves as a resource and action center to help our organizing efforts.