Child Care Union Information

Friday, June 25, 2010

After I posted the question about SRS, I had comments about the AFSCME Union and how it might effect those with SRS contracts. Originally, I did not do much to look into this issue. I only visited the Union's website and read about their mission. It did not mention anything about taking dues out of SRS subsidy checks unless a provider was part of the Union and requested that they do so or if the provider had not paid Union dues on time. So, again I didn't think much of the Union. Now, I've had a request again to look into this issue. This is the information that I found out, and this is to the best of my knowledge and understanding. If you are a member of the Union, feel free to comment if I am not correct.

First of all, I've been part of unions before. I was part of 2 teachers' unions when I was teaching, so I'm not anti-Union in general. My uncle is even president of a railroad union in Kansas City. However, my feelings on the Childcare Providers Together/AFSCME union is that it would not benefit me to become a part of it right now. I reviewed their mission before coming to this conclusion.

AFSCME Union Controversy:

To get started and address some of the early comments, Michigan has had troubles with the AFSCME Union and the Department of Health Services (DHS). There is much speculation into who really benefitted the most from this the Union or DHS. In Michigan, the Union formed without a majority of childcare providers voting for it. From what I've read, 40,000 ballots got sent out but only 6000 were returned with the majority of those 6,000 voting in favor of the Union. After signing an agreement with the AFSCME Union, DHS in Michigan claimed that daycare providers who were receiving subsidy checks from the State were employees of the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council and thus members of the Union. This caused a lot of problems because home daycare providers are considered independent contractors and we pay taxes as independent contractors. Providers in Michigan are baffled about how they're considered  employees if they are paying taxes as independent contractors. As a result of DHS claiming that providers are employees of the Michigan Home Based Child Care Council, Union dues are taken out of the subsidy checks these providers are getting. Providers in Michigan are suing the AFSCME Union. More information about Michigan and AFSCME here.

Childcare Providers Together/AFSCME:
The current Union in Kansas is called Childcare Providers Together. Kathleen Sebilius signed an executive order in 2007, allowing the AFSCME Union enter into an agreement with KDHE and SRS. These are highlights from the contract between SRS/KDHE and AFSCME:

  • This agreement between the State and the Union represents each parties’ good faith efforts to work together on: child care quality standards; Provider training and professional development opportunities; rates for subsidized child care benefits; payment methods; health and safety conditions, monitoring and evaluation of Providers; and recruitment and retention of qualified Providers, and otherwise increase the overall quality of child care programs in Kansas.
  • Through this agreement the State and the Union agree to work in partnership to build a twenty first century child care system that promotes the safe, healthy development of the children of Kansas, respects and recognizes Providers, and complies with applicable state and federal regulations.
  • To ensure proper representation of Providers under the terms of this Agreement, the State will provide to the Union, Registered and Licensed Providers information in accordance with the provisions of the Kansas Open Records Act and K.S.A. 65-525 and amendment thereto, in writing or through electronic transmission. If needed, a reasonable fee for information may be required.
  • The State agrees to include one (1) piece of Union literature describing the history, purpose, and contact information, either in the form of a letter or pamphlet, in the renewal application packets sent to any prospective Provider in the state of Kansas.
  • The State agrees to place a Union hyperlink and an internet hyperlink to this agreement on the main website page of KDHE for child care regulation and SRS for child care subsidy.
  • The right of Providers to contact a person to be present to observe any regulatory inspection conducted by an authorized agent of KDHE or compliance visit by SRS without delaying or interfering with the inspection.
  • Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to interfere with parental rights to select or deselect Providers.
  • It is the intent of the State and the Union to cooperate in efforts to work towards achieving the federal benchmark of the 75th percentile of the most current market rate analysis compiled by the State or its contractors for state child care assistance subsidy to enable better access to child care. The parties agree to pursue an increase to the subsidy benefit rate for all county groupings and categories of providers through state budget cycles.
  • The State shall recognize Kansas Child Care Provider Day on a mutually agreed day and month for each year during the term of this agreement.
  • The Union represents all Providers and intends to collect Union dues from all Providers who are members of the Union.
  • SRS enrolls a small subset of these Providers in the Child Care Subsidy Program. The dues paying Providers enrolled with SRS will be given the option to pay Union dues through an Electronic Benefit Transfer diversion option.
  • The State and the Union have an interest in adequate availability to child care services for those families participating in the child care subsidy program, and the parties will work together to assure the collection of dues does not create an undue burden to Providers serving children receiving child care subsidy payments.
Find the rest of the agreement here. It's a very dry read, especially at 11pm on a weeknight. :)

My Thoughts:

This agreement does not really effect me. I am not contracted with SRS, but I did get an application the other day. Even if I was contracted with SRS, this agreement does not effect me because I can choose not to be part of the Union. If something transpires like what happened in Michigan, I would drop my SRS contract (should I ever get one) in an instant. I feel that taking dues out for accepting child care assistance subsidies is ridiculous! Providers take on the families with subsidies to provide child care, not to pay more fees. I have been able to run my daycare with private pay parents only; others might not be as lucky as me. I feel that providers will stop taking families with subsidies due to issues like these.

So, does accepting SRS subsidies in Kansas make you a paying member of the Union?

According to SRS in Wichita, no it does not.
I'm awaiting an answer to this question from the Union. I emailed them today.
This may change in the future, but for now we're in the clear. :)



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