Now that the California Assembly has approved AB 641, which would enable home-based childcare providers to unionize, a joint budget-writing committee will consider it, according to the Sacramento Bee. If approved, the resultant collective bargaining expansion would add thousands of child-care slots and trigger a rise in reimbursement rates.
Democrats and Republicans differ regarding the proposal; Democrats champion it as necessary for caretakers of pre-schoolers to make more money, and for low-income workers to find childcare they can afford. They also claim that the added investment would boost education for preschoolers across the board, while Republicans express skepticism over the huge budget increase.
Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), head of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, told the Bee, “When our children enter kindergarten, some of them are very well prepared and some of them are not. They’re playing catch-up all their lives. If we invest on the front end, we’ll save money on the back end.”
Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff saw the move as a ploy to strengthen unions, asserting, “I believe it would just drive costs higher. So the question is, is this about labor or is this about providing services?”
The Brown administration, like the Schwarzenegger administration which preceded it, has opposed the expansion of collective bargaining to child care providers. Brown wrote in 2011, “I am reluctant to embark on a program of this magnitude and potential cost.”
California is currently spending $2.4 billion on state-subsidized child care.