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News :: Gender : Labor : Race : Social Welfare
Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
28 Jun 2005
On June 22, Rhode Island governor Donald Carcieri vetoed the Family Childcare Providers Business Opportunity Act of 2005. The act would have allowed the state's 1,300 licensed and hundreds of other unlicensed home-based day care providers, members of the union SEIU 1199, to bargain collectively with the state for wages and benefits.

As wages fall behind inflation for most workers, and welfare payments are eliminated, the home based day care workers have become essential for working parents in Rhode Island. The day care fees are subsidized for thirteen thousand parents by the state, although these subsidies are being cut to pay for tax cuts for the richest Rhode Islanders. But the day care workers are poorly compensated for their central role in the state's economy. The Day Care Justice Co-Op, an organization of day care workers that preceeded the union drive, found that after deducting for the cost of childrens' toys, books, food, safety equipment, and sometimes assistants, the day care workers, mostly black and latina women, ended up with a wage of only $2.76 per hour, less than the legal minimum wage.
The workers have organized to demand justice for themselves and the children they care for. They signed union cards, marched through the streets of Providence in May of 2004, and held rallies at the state legislature. They have stood up to the viciously anti-union and sexist Providence Journal newspaper by speaking out in leters to the editor and opinion columns. The Providence Journal ran an anti-union editorial on June 11 titled "Spank the Babysitters Union", and is campaigning to uphold the Governor's veto.

Grace Diaz, a home day care provider and member of SEIU 1199 was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives as a Democrat with support from her union. The day care workers showed that even the most oppressed workers can organize, on the job and politically. But their struggle has not yet overcome the anti-union Democrats and Republicans who control the state's political forums.

At first the day care providers' goal was to be declared state employees, thus able to collectively bargain with the state under the existing law. Since the state regulates their hours, issues certifications, and sets work rules for the home-day care providers, this was more than reasonable. But against opposition from the democratic-party led state legislature and the governor, SEIU 1199 decided to back the "Business Opportunity" act, which left the day care workers with the misleading titles of "independent contractors", but allowed their union to bargain on their behalf.

The union, which has marketed its campaign as "kids come first", even gave up the right to strike or take any kind of job action in the bill. This concession will weaken the child care workers at the bargaining table. The union has stressed that their legislation will keep parents off welfare and will not create any state employees.

Even with this concession, the Democrat-controlled RI legislature barely mustered enough votes to override Governor Carcieri's veto. The bill passed 23 to 13 in the Senate, and 41 to 27 in the House. In the house, eleven Democrats voted against the bill. In the Senate, eight Democrats voted against the bill. Child care workers are hoping that no more will waver when a three-fifths majority vote is needed to override the Governor's veto.

Even if the veto is overridden in the state legislature, the child care workers face a long road of struggle for decent wages and benefits. They deserve the support of the entire state AFL-CIO, which should refuse to adapt itself to the right wing, anti-union demonization of state employees and welfare recipients. Solidarity, not preemptive compromise, will be the key to victory. And if day care workers have the determination and ability to get elected to state office, why not build a party that doesn't hesitate to fight for the rights of workers and their unions? Workers and oppressed people need a party of our own, that won't take away our right to strike while recognizing our right to bargain. Victory to the childcare workers!

Alex Gould is a member of UFCW local 328.
See also:
http://www.childcareri.org/
http://www.workers.org/

Copyright by the author. All rights reserved.
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Link Disappeared
29 Jun 2005
The editors removed the link to Workers World Newspaper -- the paper I write occasionally for where you can find union news from an internationalist class struggle perspective.

http://www.workers.org/
Re: Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
30 Jun 2005
Sorry, but the link had no obvious connection with the story.
Re: Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
01 Jul 2005
Post the link.

The WWP link does have relevance. WW newspaper is a leading forum for independent media in the U.S. and is read closely by many internationally-especially by its enemies, both in the state department and elsewhere because this party seriously challenges capitalism in word and in deed. Saying that the WW newspaper link had "no obvious connection with the story" is ludricous at best.

WW newspaper, on a weekly basis in print and more frequently on its website (www.workers.org), writes articles and analysis on the same struggles that Mr. Gould wrote about in his wonderful article: racism, sexism, homophobia, women, children, unions, wages, the anti-war movement, abuse of women, women in prisons, childcare, unions that represent multinational women with children etc.

It is too bad that the person who took this link out is robbing readers of a chance to see this for themselves and to make their own decisions which is what Indymedia is supposed to be about. It says after writing an article to post two links. Is the Boston Indymedia policy now changed to remove links such as Mr. Gould's for some obscure reason if they don't think it has relevance as Mr. Williams states? If the link isn't racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise discriminatory etc. what's the real problem?

Just in case it's a bit of or a large irritation with WWP, let's talk.

In regard to WW newspaper, engaging in some research, we'll all see that the WW Editorial Staff is composed of a diverse array of women, women of color and lesbian/gay/bi/trans people. In fact, its Editor is a women and many of the writers are women, many from WWP's youth/student group FIST (Fight Imperialism Stand Together). The party's leadership is similar. How many progressive or revolutionary organizations or parties can claim this kind of affirmative action in practice?

Beyond WWP's program, which one may or may not agree with, based on pure independent journalism credentials, WW newspaper is one of the best out there. An all-volunteer multinational staff of writers and editors, almost all full-time workers, on a weekly deadline publishing local, regional, national and international news, analysis and photographs from a revolutionary perspective. WW newspaper also writes about various Boston struggles on a regular basis. Anyone with any news sense whatsover, and is honest, will tell you that WW journalism is the real deal.

It is hoped that this most recent (it has happend before) outright censorship and actions against WWP, (despite the repeated lies and slander lodged against it) will cease. WWP is a party that has consistently defended the rights of the international working class and oppressed for 45 years.

In this light and in the present "Homeland Security" environment, it is especially more astounding and sad that an Indymedia collective such as Boston's would do the work of the State Department for free considering WWP's staunch defense of Indymedia when it has come under attack by state forces in the U.S. or elsewhere.

WWP regularly uses Indymeda photos and sources because of the quality but also to be in unity and solidarity with one of the few and decent independent media outlets in the U.S. Many WW newspaper writers work as independent media workers and have done the same in their own work.

It is a shame that after all this that what WWP gets is a slap in the face by way of being censored on an independent news source it has done nothing but to support and build in word and in deed from Seattle 'till right now as we speak!

Note: Do your research if you don't believe any of this or if someone is telling you otherwise. Tip: Journalism 101. Always ask for attribution or actual facts when someone makes an accusation, especially concerning WWP!

Post the link.

And get a subscription to WW newspaper!

In unity and solidarity.
disappearing links
01 Jul 2005
I just placed the link back on the article per the author's request. I think it's ok if someone posts a link to share a personal interest of theirs, even if it doesn't relate to article.

I don't think Matt thought the WWNews was of no relevance, but how it didn't seem to relate directly to the article. That's all. It's fixed now.

peace,
sj
Re: Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
01 Jul 2005
A balanced assessment of Workers World Party and their newspaper would also note that WWP is widely disliked and distrusted by many other activists.

I'll grant George Jackson some of the points he makes. The folks in WWP do try to work on a wide range of issues, tying them together in a radical critique. And, in some cases, they do seem to have put down roots in working class organizations. Quite honestly, a lot of anarchist groups could probably learn from the latter.

I'm skeptical that WWP's newspaper is read by the elite. If they're doing so because they think it will give them a look into the way activists think about the world, they are rather mistaken.WWP's views are (thankfully) not representative of the left as a whole. WWP broke off from a Trotskyist group, the Socialist Workers Party, after the Soviet invasion of Hungary. The SWP supported the Hungarian government's attempt to create socialism with a human face. The group that formed WWP supported Stalin and considered the Hungarian pro-democracy movement counter-revolutionary. Unfortunately, they have not left this way of thinking behind. In more recent years, they have been apologists for Kim Jong Il, Slobodan Milosevic, and Saddam Hussein. It's not simply that they have opposed US aggression against North Korea, Serbia, and Iraq, as many other progressives did--they insisted that these dictators were actually really swell guys, apparently inverting the usual way of thinking (us good, them bad) to us bad, them good. They also supported the Chinese government's crackdown on the student protesters in Tianemen Square, on the grounds that the students were counter-revolutionaries. Damn funny definiton of counter-revolutionary if you ask me. Basically, WWP is the sort of group that actually provides some validation for all the charges right-wingers make about leftists coddling dictators.

WWP is not simply disliked for its beliefs. They're also distrusted by most other organizers I know for their untrustworthiness as allies. They operate through a wide number of front groups, the International Action Center and ANSWER being two of the better known. People--especially those new to activism--who would never join a Stalinist sect join these groups, not realizing what they're getting into, so WWP can draw on numbers far in excess of those who actually believe their ideas. These groups are run rather undemocratically, so the non-Stalinist members really have little influence over how they operate. WWP and its front groups do not work well with other groups either. Most groups, if they're going to call a national demonstration, consult with other major activist groups working on the issue and put out a call together. It's a matter of basic respect for your allies. On innumerable occasions, WWP has issued calls for national protests without consulting any other groups, assembling coalitions consisting mainly of their front groups. This is really rude and disrespectful. At times, there have been two separate national marches called by two different groups--one a real coalition, the other WWP and its front groups. And they do get people to go, some out of misguided notions of activist unity that WWP shows no respect for, or out of ignorance. Locally, I know of a couple of instances where WWP members essentially took over demonstrations other groups had organized, using them to promote themselves, as if they had done all the work, when they often had done nothing. Indeed, this happened to me once.

So before you get really enthusiastic about WWP, think twice.

For more on why many folks don't like WWP, see http://www.authoritarianopportunistswhocozyuptogenocidaldictators-forpea/
clarification
01 Jul 2005
What I meant when I said that WWP seems to have roots in working class organizations is that a lot of their members are also members of unions and do play a role in organizing them in some cases. This doesn't mean that most of those union members are followers of WWP or its ideology though.
Re: Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
01 Jul 2005
Like George said, check the sources. Workers World's actual writings (not those projected by illiterate party-haters) about the Hungarian counter-revolution and other issues of debate in the international communist movement are available online at workers.org.

WWP's anti-imperialist mass organizing is respected around the world. It is maligned and hated by petit-bourgeois forces who can't imagine that they would not be the dominant tendency in every movement.

Check the historical record and see who has most consistently been struggling to unite and arm the working class for revolution in the US. Then join that party.
Re: Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
01 Jul 2005
agh wtf "hungarian counter-revolution"

I can't believe these vampires are getting in the way of us talking about this enormously important campaign
Re: Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
02 Jul 2005
Nobody's stopping you, iron council; what do you have to say?
Re: Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
07 Aug 2005
this is interesting...
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Re: Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
29 May 2006
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