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Lawmakers battle over allowing child care workers to unionize - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. lawmakers battle over allowing child care workers to unionize

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

Empty seats dotted the Senate one day before lawmakers begin their week long Town Meeting Day break.

As debate dragged Friday, others couldn't wait to join their absent colleagues.

"I'm wondering if it would be in order to remind the members that it is a day before a holiday and we have senators who are going to need to leave early for their vacations," said Sen. Phil Baruth, D-Chittenden.

The sticky subject was allowing independent child care workers to unionize.

Heated debate continued into Friday, despite an overwhelming vote of preliminary approval from Thursday, which typically makes final passage a fast process.

Proponents say wages for child care workers are too low and opponents agree.

But while those in favor of the bill want workers to have the right to negotiate as a group, opponents say it's easier to simply raise the state child care subsidy rates.

"We're not going to have any more money. If the child care providers have a union, but child care providers are going to get less of what little bit of money we do have because they're going to have to be paying union dues," said Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex/Orleans Counties.

"I have noticed that the opposition to the bill often does not address the bill, it addresses the question, people who don't like unions argue why they don't like unions, rather than why their colleagues should not have the choice," said Sen. Dick McCormack, D-Windsor County.

Both sides accuse the other of allowing biases for or against unions to color their arguments. The debate has festered at the Statehouse for several years.

In a previous session the House of Representatives passed a similar bill, but it stalled in the Senate. Following Friday's final vote of approval, the bill is now in the Representatives chamber again.

 

The bill as drafted contains a provision allowing for the partial payment of union dues by non-members who benefit. A similar provision passed for the teachers union last year, but such measures may be scrapped because of a challenge to such measures currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

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