Dozens packed a committee room at the Vt. Statehouse Wednesday night, where senators are considering a bill to allow collective bargaining rights for early childhood educators across the state. Supporters believe banding together or even joining a union to negotiate with the state will improve state subsidies to child care facilities. But critics say passing the bill will mean a union can roll in and price some small facilities out of business.
"Child care providers-- particularly home providers-- are often isolated. By coming together with our colleagues with a unified voice we will be able to be a collective voice to improve the state of early childhood in Vermont," said Heather Hassett of Bennington.
Kathi Apgar with YMCA Early Childhood Program disagrees, "Forcing dues on those providers who can barely make ends meet, who have to count every penny, will also force many providers to go underground and when underground they cannot be monitored."
Negotiating rights for child care workers has been a controversial issue at the Statehouse for the last couple of years. Gov. Peter Shumlin said this year passing the bill is one of his priorities.