Every day, tens of thousands of working families rely on family child care providers to care for and to educate their young children in a safe, home-based environment. After eight years of campaigning for dignity and respect for their work, family child care providers now have a voice in Massachusetts's early childhood education.
Last week, family child care providers delivered over 1,900 union authorization cards to the Massachusetts Division of Labor Relations (DLR) for certification. On Wednesday, the DLR certified SEIU Local 509 as the official bargaining representative of 3,500 family child care providers in Massachusetts. The certification of these cards makes the 3500 providers one of the largest groups of workers to form a union in recent years.
"We are often the first educators that a child will ever have, it's important that we have a voice in early childhood education in Massachusetts," said Celina Reyes a family child care provider from Lawrence. "We're overjoyed that our union has been officially recognized, and we look forward to working with the Department of Early Education and Care to improve the quality of early childhood education in our state."
In July, Governor Patrick signed HB 3986, An Act Relative to improving quality in early education and care by family child care providers, that granted family child care providers the opportunity to collectively bargain with the state. Since the legislation's passage, providers from Hyannis to Pittsfield have been organizing and working together to build their union of family child care providers.
"Family child care providers are vital to helping working families re-enter or stay in the workforce," said Susan Tousignant, a rehabilitation counselor with the Mass Rehab Commission and president of SEIU Local 509. "We're very happy to welcome them into the SEIU family fighting for good jobs and better communities."