Childcare Workers On Track to Unionize, If They Want

By Steph Machado

Published 05/06 2014 07:31PM

Updated 05/06 2014 07:41PM

MONTPELIER - Childcare workers will be able to unionize under a controversial bill passed by the Vermont House Tuesday.

The vote was 78 to 59. It already passed the Senate earlier this legislative session.

The bill will allow daycare workers to decide whether or not they want to form a union, and elect a union leader to negotiate will the state on subsidies. Proponents of the bill say the subsidy rates are too low.

State Rep. Tom Stevens (D-Waterbury) hopes it will keep more daycare employees in the industry.

"We have a 40% turnover rate with childcare centers across the state," Rep. Stevens said. "Which is really unsustainable year after year after year, having people cycle in and cycle out, trying to provide quality daycare for kids, which is more than daycare--its' childcare, it's child development, it's education."

If the workers decided to unionize and negotiate, early estimates say it could cost the state $800,000 to $2 million. As for how to raise the money, that would become a budget decision in next session's budget adjustment bill, since the session will adjourn this year before the workers would form the union.

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