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No Kidding: Bill Would Classify Day Care Workers as Public Employees

Posted on October 3, 2011

Here’s something for the “Are you kidding me?” file:  A bill pending in the Massachusetts Legislature would classify employees of private child-care businesses as public employees, give their names and home addresses to labor unions and pay those unions to represent the workers.

Day Care WorkersAssociated Industries of Massachusetts will testify against the measure – An Act to Improve Quality in Early Education Care Centers – before the Joint Committee on Public Service Tuesday. AIM believes the proposal represents a clear and unprecedented intrusion by government into private business and a massive transfer of wealth from hard-working day care employees to big labor unions.

The introduction to the bill seems innocuous enough:

“It is hereby declared to be the policy of the commonwealth to assure quality early education and care for children by child care providers…” 

Who could argue with that?

“It shall also be the intent of the General Court that child care providers and the commonwealth work jointly to establish a quality early education and care program that serves eligible low income families through providers who have the requisite skills and training.” 

Again, who could argue?

But then the language gets, well, perplexing:

“In order to address these challenges, child care providers are to be given the opportunity to work collectively to improve standards in their profession and to expand opportunities for educational advancement to ensure continuous quality improvement in the delivery of early learning services…” 

All of which happens now. But the bill maintains that to make improvement happen:

“Child care providers shall be considered public employees,” and shall be given the right to bargain collectively “with the Department of Early Education and Care, to collaborate through collective bargaining to improve the standards in their profession, expand opportunities for educational advancement and to ensure continuous improvement in the delivery of early education and care services.”

The bill would also impose a “Representation fee…paid by the state to the employee organization (read the union) for its role in advocating (lobbying) for professional development and representing (lobbying for) child care providers under this chapter.” 

And if that’s not enough:

“Every child care center and school age child care program . . . shall provide to the Department of Early Education and Care a list of the names, home addresses, phone numbers, workplace and job title of all current child care providers, annually by January 30, except that initially such lists shall be provided within thirty days of the effective date of this section.

“The Department of Early Education and Care shall, upon request, provide to a labor organization a list of all current child care providers in the unit that the organization seeks to organize or represents. Such list shall contain information including name, home addresses, telephone number, workplace and job title with regard to such employees, as is necessary for the purposes of this act.”

Individual child care and early education centers would effectively lose control of their work force while costs to the state will increase to pay a “representation fee” levied by a union for doing work that can be done right now, without making everyone in the business a public employee and union member.

AIM is not anti-union.  And we have been strong and visible supporters of efforts to improve early education opportunities in Massachusetts.

But this bill lacks logic and does nothing to advance the interest of children.  Unfortunately, we’re not kidding.