Nurture, care and educate – that’s my mission whether serving children in my independent day care in West Oakland, encouraging parents as they raise their children or standing with my fellow low-wage workers as we build a stronger California for all working families.
We all have an opportunity to stand strong together, care for one another and educate leaders across California and the nation on why unions are how we strengthen families and communities. And in an economy rigged against hardworking people and a political system determined to take from the poor and give power to CEOs and the rich, we need the collective voice of working people to rise up now.
On February 26th, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Janus v AFSCME, a lawsuit that seeks to undermine union protections for working people. At the same time, across the nation and right here in the Bay Area, workers gathered to put the rich and powerful interests behind the case on notice: we will not be divided.
Instead, we are fighting harder than ever for good jobs and giving families a shot at the California dream, from janitors and teachers to court reporters and family child care providers, like myself. Today, family child care providers continue our 15 year fight to win the right to unionize and collectively bargain with the State of California. Though the road has been a difficult one, we know that unionization is our only pathway out of poverty and to professionalize our industry so we provide the best early care education possible.
For more than 10 years, I’ve served families in the Bay Area, focusing on children ages 0-3 years old. As a former kindergarten to 3rd grade teacher in Oakland area schools, I’ve witnessed first-hand how crucial a financially stable home is in a child’s early development and well into their elementary school years. Today, I serve an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse set of families from single mothers accessing state assistance while in school and in entry-level jobs to business executives at Kaiser, Clorox, and other corporations.
Success at school and in workplaces happens when parents have paid leave when they need to care for a loved one or take time off to meet with a child’s teacher. Parents and children thrive when households earn livable wages to cover housing, food and other basic needs and have health care. And it’s through a union we close wage gaps that disproportionately hit women and people of color.
According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, union members earn 10 to 20 percent higher wages than those who work similar nonunion jobs. The impact is even greater for women, Latinos and African American men. Benefits of strong unions extend into the community at large. In states that have a larger proportion of union members, higher wage standards boost annual pay for all workers by about $1,560.
Unions build up middle-class jobs for our future workforce – from the littlest learners in my care to my own children who are in college and will be looking for jobs soon. That’s why millennials strongly support unions, knowing solid union jobs become careers they can support themselves and future families on.
Even as I stand in a profession that has yet to be given a voice and union rights by the state of California, I firmly believe in standing strong with my fellow working people who are fighting to ensure all families have a chance to live and work with dignity and stability.
Because whether you’re an educator, parent, grandparent or voter, we all owe it to the next generation to stand together and show them we can lead the way to a better future. And that way is through strong unions for all families.