It was just last week that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy asked labor leaders not to question his commitment to labor. Today he signed two executive orders that provide a path for state child care workers and personal care attendants to organize and gain collective bargaining rights.
The executive orders establish working groups that will report to the governor by February on how best to establish collective bargaining rights for the two groups. Legislation earlier this year attempted to allow for similar rights to be given to personal care attendants, PCA’s, but the legislation never made it out of committee. And some lawmakers have been talking about finding ways to organize child care workers, but that legislation died on the Senate calendar.
“I have said repeatedly that I believe in the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain, and personal care attendants and family child care providers are often-times the hardest-working, and lowest-paid workers in our job force,” Malloy said in a statement Wednesday.
The two executive orders, which were applauded by the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, SEIU, allow workers to immediately begin discussions with the head of the Department of Social Services about quality of life issues and “an eye toward establishing formal collective bargaining rights in the future.”
The Care 4 Kids program funds more than 4,000 child care workers in the state and provides child care to low and moderate income families. And the personal care attendants, PCA’s, take care of the elderly and disabled in their homes, which the executive order points out cost less money in the long term.
“It is important that those who care for both our youngest and oldest citizens receive equitable pay and workforce security,” Malloy said in a statement about the orders.
In both the home care and child care system, the lack of a focused recruitment, training, and retention strategy has created high turnover and made it difficult to find reliable care, a statement from the New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199, SEIU says. With providers united into organizations that can advocate for quality improvements, it will build a more stable, professional workforce that consumers can better rely on.
“We play a very important role in the development of the children we care for, which is to get them ready to learn,” Denise Gaston, a licensed child care provider with 30 years of experience, said in a statement from the union. “I’m thrilled that the Governor is helping us gain a voice to stand up for the quality, affordable child care that the parents I serve really need.”
The executive orders allows for the child care providers to form a nine member working group before Oct. 1, while the personal care attendants will form a similar seven member working group before Nov. 1.
Each group will report on its recommendations and findings to the governor no later than Feb. 1, 2012.
As far as the collective bargaining process and an election to join a is concerned, Malloy specified in the executive orders that card check will be required which means in order to agree to organize members won’t be allowed to cast secret ballots.
Opponents of card check say it makes it easier for the unions to intimidate workers into joining the union.
Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, pushed legislation to help child care workers organize earlier this year, but the legislation died on the Senate calendar.