New York, NY – The ongoing pay disparity between Early Childhood Education teachers working at Community Based Organizations [CBOs] throughout the five boroughs and their counterparts at the Department of Education is being jeered this week, as “disgusting” and “racist.”
As many as 10 City Council members and the city’s comptroller joined the union representing CBO Early Childhood Education teachers on the steps of City Hall on March 20, demanding Mayor Bill de Blasio finally take action to correct the disparity that one Queens legislator called, “the longest running labor issue in the City of New York.’
“We want the New York City Daycare Council to reopen our contract so that my members can finally obtain parity,” DC1707 Executive Director Kim Medina told supporters. “The mayor should not use the excuse that the contract is closed not to give them parity.”
For years, Early Childhood Education teachers at CBOs throughout the city have been getting paid thousands of dollars — sometimes tens of thousands of dollars less — than Early Childhood Education teachers doing the same work through the DOE.
“Mayor de Blasio has been in office for six years — the discrimination against professional childcare employees has been going on for decades — what is the mayor waiting on to right this wrong?” Medina continued. “Why is it taking so long to fix what is broken?”
Frustration levels have risen so high, that both Head Start Local 95 and DayCare Local 205 recently voted to strike if pay parity is not achieved.
“My members understand that this administration only gives lip service to women of color,” Medina added. “As a Puerto-Rican/Hawaiian from the Bronx, I’m so highly offended, it disgusts me every day. We do not want to wait until 2021 [for a new contract]. This is not a contractual issue, as much as the City of New York righting a wrong that has been plaguing our city since the Lindsay administration.”
“My members understand that this administration only gives lip service to women of color. As a Puerto-Rican/Hawaiian from the Bronx, I’m so highly offended, it disgusts me every day. We do not want to wait until 2021 [for a new contract]. This is not a contractual issue, as much as the City of New York righting a wrong that has been plaguing our city since the Lindsay administration.” — DC1707 Executive Director Kim Medina
Roughly 60 percent of all Universal PreK classrooms in New York City owe their existence to CBOs where highly credentialed Early Childhood Education teachers — predominately women of color — are paid dramatically less than Early Childhood Education teachers working for the DOE.
“This has to be the last time that we come out here — this issue has been going on for far too long,” City Council Member Laurie Cumbo [D-District 35] said. “Anytime you find a place where predominantly black and brown women are — is where you are going to find issues of inequality.”
The mayor warned of belt-tightening and making “touch choices” when unveiling the city’s new $92.2 billion budget last month. But advocates seeking pay parity for the Early Childhood Education teachers responsible for making Universal Pre-K possible, are not in the mood for excuses.
“For years ,we have been fighting the same thing,” City Council Member Carlina Rivera [D-District 2] said. “We all know it is a very old story. This is a story about disrespecting women — and women of color.”
Council Member Ben Kallos [D-District 5] chided the mayor for rolling out Universal Pre-K “on the backs of our CSA and [DC]1707 workers” — reminding Hizzoner of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the idea of equal pay for equal work.
“When you have two populations of people, and one population happens to be more women and more people of color that’s getting a lot less…just do the right thing,” Council Member Kallos said.
With the overwhelming majority of Universal Pre-K classrooms throughout the city meeting nationally recognized standards for positive classrooms conditions and child outcomes, the de Blasio administration is looking — under the auspices of the DOE — to expand the signature program to infants and toddlers.
“It’s budget time, [and] budgets are about making priorities and making big decisions,” NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer said. “End the two-tier standard. The more we invest in our daycare providers, our community based organizations, I’m telling you — I can prove it economically — that you grow the economy. And you also make sure that the people who have great responsibility can also lead lives for their families. The best way you can begin to truly have a city for all, is invest equally in all providers.”
Medina further lambasted the lack of pay parity as a policy that is “dishonest, misogynistic and racist.”
“My mayor, don’t be Micheal Bloomberg — give Local 205 and Local 95 wage parity. Respect the cook and the custodian. Respect the bookkeeper; the teacher’s aide; the family advocate; the family coordinator; the assistant teacher; and the teacher,” Medina said.
The Mayor’s Office did not respond to requests for comment at press time.