I’ll never have the great privilege of speaking before the U.S. Supreme Court and sharing why Janus v AFSCME matters so much to me. Still, it hasn’t stopped me from thinking about how a child care provider like myself might briefly share my story with the honorable women and men of the court.
For me, a union – what the Janus v AFSCME lawsuit seeks to undermine and tear a part – is like a family. We stick together through good times and bad. I think of my own family who worked hard to ensure a solid educational foundation for me and also for hundreds of children in my home country of Peru. My great grandmother was a teacher, my mother was a teacher and later became a principal in Peru. And now I proudly own and operate my own child care business in Alameda County and have educated children for the last 10 years.
But it’s come with challenges. My assistants make just $13 an hour and do not have health care coverage or other benefits that others in teaching professions are granted thanks to collective bargaining and union representation – two things early childhood educators have been fighting for years to get in California. My own family and I take care of our health needs in Peru when we visit family.
And now the ruling from Janus v AFSCME says the ability for people to come together in a union and improve life for all children and working families should be stripped away; this is yet another barrier for child care providers and working families trying to make ends meet on poverty-wage jobs.
And yet, I remain resolved to stand strong with my fellow working people, continue in the footsteps of my family, push for a better way of life and demand the right to a union and collective bargaining.
We won’t let this one or any court case stand in the way of our fight for the good, union jobs that children, families and our communities need. Because we know unions are the path to raising wages, securing affordable healthcare, and ensuring a dignified retirement, especially for women and people of color like me. That’s the union story anti-worker extremists and corporate interests behind this case don’t want to get out.
But like other working people standing up today, child care providers will stand proud too, and refuse to be left out of the American dream.
Roxana Ferreira is a Child Care Provider in Alameda County