to the 50,000 child care workers in Illinois who voted to join a union this week! In the five and a half years that I’ve been a working parent, I’ve marveled at the strength and fortitude of the women who have taken care of my kids. Some of those women–Jennifer and Mindy–were taking in kids so that they can stay home with their own kids. Some of them–Carmen–don’t have kids of their own. Some of them–Jinette, Evelyn–are single moms working full time and raising their kids. Some of them–Lynette, Esperanza–are retired, and on their second career. We’ve had our ups and downs with daycare over this last five years, but through it all, I’ve always known that these women took the best care of my kids that they could.
It’s a sad fact of our society that those who take care of others–whether they are nursing assistants, childcare providers, or those who work with the elderly–are generally underpaid and overworked. We pay parking attendants more an hour than we do childcare workers, and while I wouldn’t want a childcare worker to have to supervise as many children as a parking attendant does cars, there’s still something wrong there.
I’m hopeful that this union election, the second largest union election since the UAW organized General Motors, back in the 30s, inspires countless other childcare workers across the country to stand up for themselves. I’m hopeful that these workers, and the workers they inspire to organize, are successful at winning better wages, decent healthcare, and good regulations in their industry. I don’t just want those things because I’m pro-union. I want them because they’re good for my kids. Because it’s good for all of our kids, when the workers who take care of them every day are able to raise their own children in stable homes. It’s good for our kids when their daycare teachers don’t leave their jobs every six months. It’s good for our future.