Capitol Alert

California Senate approves child care worker unionization

Tisa Kelley, a Sacramento child care provider, puts away some of the chairs after lunch on May 28, 2015.
Tisa Kelley, a Sacramento child care provider, puts away some of the chairs after lunch on May 28, 2015. hamezcua@sacbee.com

California would allow tens of thousands of child care providers to unionize under a proposal passed Wednesday by the state Senate. Lawmakers voted 25-12 to approve Senate Bill 548, which heads next to the Assembly.

SB 548 is part of a broader push by legislative Democrats this year to expand state-funded child care slots, an issue expected to be resolved through budget negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown.

“Our poverty rate is staggering,” said Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who authored the measure. “It’s not only about creating jobs. We also need to support working families so they can be able to take those jobs. Without reliable child care, they can’t leave to go to work.”

Allowing child care workers to unionize could be the largest expansion of collective bargaining within a state-funded service since 1999, but Wednesday’s floor discussions largely ignored the intent of the bill, focusing instead on the proposed expansion of child care slots. Sen. Janet Nguyen, R-Garden Grove, only briefly hinted at Republican criticisms that union representation would drive up the cost of child care, already unaffordable for many, even higher.

“Under this bill, the cost of child care will continue to rise,” Nguyen said, “and parents will continue to be forced to make a choice between starting a career or taking care of their child.”

Alexei Koseff: (916) 321-5236, @akoseff

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