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Shumlin signs home child care unionization bill - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Shumlin signs home child care unionization bill

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

A new law grants home child-care workers the right to unionize.

This bill does not create a union, or affect child care centers, just providers working out of their homes.

A vote on whether to form a union is expected to come late this summer, but opponents argue taking advantage of their new right, may not be the right choice.

Time spent on swings and playing with peers is considered the most important to a child's development. Lawmakers say a new law will help those who watch over those formative years earn a living, provide better care, and make their services more affordable.

"This is about collective bargaining. It's a fundamental human right, it ought to be available to anybody who works for a living but in particular, the people mostly women who provide this important service," said Sen. Dick McCormack, D-Windsor County.

The law allows workers that provide childcare out of their homes to unionize and bargain for higher subsidy rates for low-income students as well as professional development opportunities.

Nan Reid, a childcare provider, says she wants to see the subsidy eligibility rate raised each year along with the cost of living.

"As it stands now, you basically have to be a single parent to qualify for a childcare subsidy, two working parents who are making minimum wage and have maybe four or five children don't qualify," said Reid.

No date is set yet for a vote to accept a union, but is expected by the end of summer.

The American Federation of Teachers lobbied for the legislation over the last four years and is a front-runner for consideration.

Governor Peter Shumlin's, D-Vermont, signature is on the bill, but opponents say the writing isn't on the wall yet.

"We feel like it's going to cost us a lot of money and it's going to decrease the availability of childcare for Vermont's children," said Shumlin.

Elsa Bosma leads a group that opposed the legislation. She says creating a union will lift rates as providers try to recoup the cost of dues or agency fees.

Bosma says she won't accept subsidy children in the future if it means joining the union.

"Why do we have to pay an outside agency to speak for us," said Bosma.

Bosma says it's already the job of legislators to speak for constituents like her, but Senators and Representatives at Thursday's press conference say creating a union would mean workers aren't subject to wthe whims of the state house.

Elsa Bosma says she just finished a free professional development course at the Community College of Vermont and disagrees with the assessment that there are not currently enough opportunities.

Proponents say if the playing field were currently level without a union childcare providers would receive the same pay as their peers who work in elementary education.

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