Early Learning Community Wins New York Bargaining Law

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New York state kept professional voice and dignity on the books after Gov. David A. Paterson signed a new law on Oct. 2 that preserves the rights of early learning educators to organize and negotiate working conditions.

The law codifies an executive order from 2007 and culminates years of political action by professionals in the early learning community, joined by AFT affiliates across the state. The new statute empowers child care professionals to form unions and negotiate agreements with the state through the Office of Children and Family Services. These agreements may address salaries, benefits and working conditions, as well as the stability, funding and operation of early learning programs.

Encompassing roughly 50,000 early learning professionals, including 28,000 members of the family child care bargaining unit for the AFT-affiliated United Federation of Teachers, the law defines four bargaining units: New York City child care providers who are paid by city funds; registered or licensed child care providers in New York City who are not paid by city funds; registered or licensed providers outside New York City; and state-compensated providers outside New York City who work in a residence and are not required to be licensed or registered.

"This victory has been more than five years in the making," says Tammie Miller, chapter chair of the UFT bargaining unit. "It reflects hard work, our dedication to bring the true voice of providers into the decision-making process. And it puts us on firm footing to build on these gains—to improve the working conditions and tools our community needs to do our best with young learners." [Daily Labor Report, Mike Rose]

October 6, 2010