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UNIONS AND CHILDCARE
Expanding Access, Raising Standards - Dec 18, 6 pm - NYC

Photo Credit: Bart Everson, Flickr

Quality child care is vitally important to ensuring the wellbeing of children and for promoting gender equality in the workplace and throughout society, but in both the United States and Canada, governments are cutting back services in this already underfunded sector. Labor unions have been among the most vocal opponents to these cutbacks, and they are organizing to increase access and to make sure that child care workers—who are underpaid and undervalued—have good jobs with the resources they need to do them well.

While the political and social contexts around child care in New York City and Toronto have been very different, unions in these two cites today face distinct but related challenges. In Toronto, since the early 1980s, unions representing the city’s daycare workers have joined forces with feminists, child care advocates, and non-profit daycare operators to push for a comprehensive, universally accessible, non-profit, publicly funded child care system. Since the mid-1990s, however, this approach has come up against the “entrepreneurial city,” which has increasingly framed urban social policy in terms of human capital development in a neoliberal project of “global competitiveness.”

In New York City, the welfare reform of 1997 dramatically expanded child care subsidies for low income workers. Unions saw this expansion as an opportunity to bring public child care subsidies to union workers in other low-wage care sectors. Unions have also worked to organize child care workers and build bargaining capacity. In so doing, they have largely acted within the framing of human capital development and non-adversarial partnerships with employers. In both the United States and Canada, child care activists share the challenges posed by a period of austerity and are struggling to defend past gains.

Trade unionists and child care advocates have been debating the relative merits of these organizing strategies. In order to advance this conversation, RLS–NYC and the Cornell Worker Institute are co-hosting a public panel discussion at which child care researchers, advocates, and trade union representatives from Canada and the United States will share their perspectives on moving child care policy forward in their respective political contexts.

SPEAKERS:

Simon Black, Researcher Political Science, York University
Martha Friendly, Executive Director, Childcare Resource and Research Unit, Child Care Canada
Jamie Kass, National Child Care Coordinator, Canadian Union of Postal Workers
Deborah King, Chair, New York Union Child Care Coalition
Nancy Kolben, Executive Director, Center for Children’s Initiatives
Susanna Schaller, Lecturer, City College Center for Worker Education
Vicky Smallman, National Director for Women’s & Human Rights, Canadian Labour Congress
G.L. Tyler, Political Director, DC 1707
Mildred Warner, Professor for City and Regional Planning, Cornell University
Representative from United Federation of Teachers – TBA

MODERATOR:

KC Wagner, Director Workplace Issues and Co-chair Equity at Work, The Worker Institute at Cornell

Unions and Child Care: Expanding Access, Raising Standards
December 18, 2013, 6-9 pm
Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, NYC
Conference Center, 16 East 34th Street, 6th Floor

This event is free. To RSVP contact Stacy Reynolds, workerinstitute@cornell.edu or 212-340-2809.

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THE GREEN NEW DEAL(S) THE WORLD NEEDS NOW

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