The child care crisis is not imaginary; it has real consequences for real children. That’s why, on October 4, hundreds of SEIU 521 Family Child Care Providers took part in a National Day of Action calling for #ChildCareForAll and #UnionsForAll. More than 600 people rallied in support throughout SEIU 521.
In Watsonville, San Jose, and Fresno, Family Child Care Providers joined other non-union workers, as well as fellow members of SEIU 521, to proclaim that we won’t give up until we win quality, affordable child care and union rights for all workers.
Over 150 Family Child Care Providers, parents, and community members from across the Monterey Bay region held a rally in Watsonville City Plaza to say enough is enough. The event called attention to California’s broken, underfunded, and inaccessible child care system, which leaves over 1.4 million children without access to quality child care.
“As my union sisters and brother have shared today, our child care system is broken. California can and must do better. Thankfully, family child care providers and parents know what that solution looks like,” said Lilia Salgado, a Family Child Care Provider from Watsonville. “California must commit to invest in an educational system that prioritizes early care and education and values the work of those who make it possible. That’s why providers are joining together with parents and early care and learning advocates across California to win quality, affordable child care for all families that need it.”
Early education is critical for a child’s development and the ability of parents to work and support their families. That is especially true here in Santa Cruz County, where licensed child care slots are unavailable for 71% of children ages 0-12 with working parents and licensed child care costs $2,000 more per year than the statewide average.
“When I met my family child care provider, Anna, I was a young newly single mom who was learning how to navigate motherhood while studying for school and working. Anna not only made sure my oldest daughter was safe and cared for, she made sure I was loved and cared for, too,” said Christina Esqueda, a single mother of three from Watsonville. “Anna taught me how to be a better mother, and she taught me how to be a fighter. Our children and families deserve better, and I am proud to fight alongside our incredible providers who are an example of love and community.”
The rally came one month before Election Day, as child care providers kick-off our campaign to elect early child care and education champions. Early educators will be canvassing and phone banking for Gavin Newsom, Tony Thurmond, and Anna Caballero in the coming month.
“California has more wealth than any state in the U.S. and is the 5th largest economy in the world. It is home to at least 144 billionaires with a combined wealth of $730 billion dollars,” said Anna Rodriguez, an SEIU 521 member and Family Child Care Provider from Watsonville. “It is wrong and inhumane to allow these greedy few individuals to make such obscene profits while hardworking, regular people struggle with California’s child care crisis. We need to put families first so that every child will be given the opportunity to succeed in life.”
Family Child Care Providers joined more than 300 working families from across Silicon Valley for our National Day of Action. The day started with a strike and walkout at McDonald’s, followed by a rally at Community Child Care Council of Santa Clara County Inc. (4Cs) calling for union rights for all. We finished with an action at Google headquarters in Mountain View, calling on the tech giant to work with the community when planning its San Jose campus.
“Fast food and child care workers share a common bond; we’re sick of working hard only to struggle to make ends meet and we believe union rights are the answer,” said fast food worker Achon Hightower at the McDonald’s strike.
After leaving McDonald’s, we rallied at 4Cs, which is the largest non-profit that provides subsidies and childcare placement for thousands of working families in Santa Clara County. Family Child Care Providers in California have been fighting for the right to bargain a union contract for the past decade, and 4Cs workers are currently fighting to win their first union contract.
“We will never stop fighting until we win a contract that 4Cs workers can be proud of and until Family Child Care Providers win our fight for collective bargaining rights with the State of California. We all deserve contracts that support our work and strengthen our ability to continue to deliver the services our communities and children need,” said San Jose Family Child Care Provider Patricia Moran.
4Cs workers, and the Family Child Care Providers they work with, vowed to support each other, demanding a union contract so that they can improve their lives and help solve questionable practices revealed in a recent state audit. They were supported throughout the day by a range of elected officials, including Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese.
“4Cs employees and Family Child Care Providers work in one of the most under-compensated, high-stress, and demanding fields in the nation, and they do it because they care about our children and making sure they’re cared for and raised in a way that allows them to reach their highest potential,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese.“The least we can do is support them in their effort to fight for their own union rights and contracts.”
More than 90 Family Child Care Providers from Fresno, Tulare and Kern Counties participated in a Central Valley Needs Unions Town Hall hosted by SEIU 521 as part of the October 4 National Day of Action. The event at Piccadilly Inn drew more than 160 workers, community leaders, elected officials and candidates who openly discussed key issues affecting our families and our communities.
Topics included access to quality child care, investment in social services, education, and immigration issues. Special emphasis was placed on the effect of family separation, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the need for investment in the public education and community services that families need to thrive.
Marcella Graves, a Family Child Care Provider in Fresno and SEIU Local 521 member, shared her experience with those in attendance. For more than two decades, Marcella has cared for children in the Central Valley. Struggle is no stranger in the professional day care she runs from her home.
“Many of the parents I work with do not work typical 9 to 5 jobs,” Marcella said. “They work multiple jobs, unconventional hours, and often juggle two to three jobs, doing whatever they need to do in order to support their families. Because so many of these parents are barely getting by, I will often pay out of my own pocket to make sure their children have diapers and healthy meals. I will never let a child go without.”
Marcella’s dedication is not uncommon, as Family Child Care Providers will often work hard to ensure no child in their care is left without, all while they themselves lack the right to negotiate union contracts and collectively bargain for their basic rights.
“We need elected leaders who will stand up for our children, working parents and child care providers and not just demand, but invest in early care and education,” Marcella said.
Proveedoras de Cuidado Infantil y aliados se unen por todo California para Día Nacional de Acción
Centenares de personas en California se manifestaron junto a nuestras Proveedoras de Cuidado Infantil en apoyo al #CuidadoInfantilParaTodos y #SindicatosParaTodos durante el Día Nacional de Acción el 4 de octubre. En reuniones y manifestaciones, miembros de SEIU Local 521en Fresno, Silicon Valley y Watsonville exigieron a candidatos y funcionarios públicos resolver nuestra crisis de cuidado infantil.