Washington was the second state to unionize child care providers. In November of 2005, following legislation allowing unionization, SEIU held a mail in ballot election. Anyone who cared for a child on the child care assistance program was eligible to vote, even those who were not licensed. Many licensed providers were excluded from the vote because they did not currently care for a child on the assistance program.
Only a small percent of those eligible to vote returned their ballots. Out of those who returned ballots, a majority of those were in favor of the SEIU. The union now represents all providers who care for a child on the assistance program regardless of if they voted or how they voted, or if they were even eligible to vote at the time of the election.
SEIU - Washington is one of the few states that have negotiated limited funding to purchase health insurance for providers. As in the other states this has happened, the number of providers who can be on the insurance program is capped. In Washington, the program allows for up to 600 providers (less than 10% of those paying dues and fees) to get some form of health insurance. Only the provider is covered, his/her family is not and the provider must meet strict requirments. For example, a provider must be caring for at least four children on the subsidy program to qualify. If she loses one of those children, she loses her insurance.
SEIU also negotiated a raise in subsidy rates and got the rates locked in through their contract. This has proved to have unintended negative consequences though. In 2011, when a 6.3% budget cut was ordered, reducing subsidy rates was not an option so in order to meet the cuts 4,000 low income families were notified that they would be losing their child care assistance and were being kicked out of the program. While a cut in subsidy rates is not desirable, a 10% cut would be better than losing ones assistance all together.
This article also highlights the trouble they have faced with rising eligibility requirements and increased parent co-pays.
Dues: 2% of state subsidy check up to $600 per year.
Fair Share Fees: Yes
Health Insurance: Yes, limited with strict eligibility requirements. Only 600 can participate at a time.
Contract: Yes, Active
Washington Child Care Providers Can Now Opt Out of Forced Dues!