Capitol Alert

State-funded child care providers drop unionization push

A rally pressed for child care funding at the Capitol on May 6.
A rally pressed for child care funding at the Capitol on May 6. The Associated Press

State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León has abandoned his efforts this session to unionize California child care providers.

In an overhaul of Senate Bill 548 on Friday, the measure was stripped of language authorizing state-funded child care workers to engage in collective bargaining and amended with a requirement for at least four hours of orientation training. The changes came from advocates at Raising California Together and the Service Employees International Union, which were behind the unionization push.

Mary Gutierrez-Khopkar, child care campaign director for Raising California Together, said they realized that securing “collective bargaining rights with this governor was going to be a huge lift,” so they switched their focus to “try to win something that will have a real impact.”

“Training is one of the biggest obstacles they face,” Gutierrez-Khopkar said. “We need to work together to improve quality in a system where these women don’t have the same access across the board.”

State law already mandates basic health and safety training for child care workers, but SB 548 would add four additional hours about state and federal guidelines for providers and available resources. The training would be coordinated through the Department of Education and local child care referral agencies, and paid for by the state.

SB 548 originally would have enabled the unionization of tens of thousands of home-based providers, the largest expansion of collective bargaining for a service with state funding since 1999. Early on, the push was tied to a proposed extension of state child care, but a budget deal in June that covered 6,800 new slots did not include the unionization provision.

The office of Gov. Jerry Brown declined to discuss whether he would support the new bill. Gutierrez-Khopkar said child care advocates would resume their collective bargaining campaign next year.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff