New bill allows child care workers to unionize

Dee DeQuattro

Governor Chafee signed a bill into law that will allow Childcare providers in Rhode Island to unionize. The bill requires the state to negotiate benefits, reimbursement rates, and other “economic matters” with child care providers who care for low-income children by receiving state subsidies.

The law, while allowing child care workers to unionize, does not allow them to receive state pensions or health benefits. It specifically notes that child care workers “are not state workers.” Under the new law the Director of Administration is required to meet with day care workers within 30 days of a request for “bargaining purposes.” If the state and the workers cannot meet an agreement, the matter can be referred to mediation or even arbitration.

The law also establishes a Child Care Assistance Parent Advisory Council made up of 7 members at least 6 of whom are parents with children in an affected childcare program. The council will advise the governor on issues relating to quality, affordability, and accessibility of child care.