March 17, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY — Frustration at community-based childcare centers where educators are paid thousands of dollars less than their DOE counterparts, is growing this week, as the union representing workers continues to press the city for pay parity.
“I don’t think the administration understands the whole concept of the community-based day care center,” DC1707 Executive Director Victoria Mitchell told LaborPress on Wednesday.
Community-based childcare center educators can hold the same advanced degrees and certifications as those working for the Department of Education — but earn some $20,000 less.
And according to a new report called "Losing The Best" from the Campaign for Children and United Neighborhood Houses, community-based childcare center educators outperform those within the public schools system in nine out of ten metrics.
“So, what is the problem? Why is it that my members are not getting the salary they rightfully deserve,” Mitchell said.
The head of DC1707, which includes Locals 205 and 95, testified at a Preliminary Budget Hearing earlier this week, in which she described the state of comunity-based childcare center educators as “confused and sullen,” and urged increased funding.
“We are at the crossroads to change the working environment for these employees and to increase the number of eligible children for high-quality early childhood education,” Mitchell testified.
Educators at Community-based childcare centers were extended a 2.5-percent wage increase last October — but Mitchell says that the modest bump “doesn’t even make a dent” in the ongoing pay parity gap existing between community based center educators and DOE teachers.
Some members of Local 205 didn’t even get the 2.5-percent increase because they work at community-based centers that were slated to close, but where kept open through discretionary funding from the City Council.
The union has been informed that there isn’t enough money in the City Council budget to extend the 2.5 percent wage increase to the educators working at those centers.
Negotiations have been going on for more than six months, but the union isn’t actually talking directly to the city — and is, instead, dealing with the Day Care Council of New York, Inc. — a federation of 200 non-profit sponsoring boards that operate more than 320 publicly-funded child care centers and family child care programs in the city.
“This is a contract negotiation between the providers and the workers’ unions,” administration spokesperson Austin Finan said in an email. “The City is engaged in those discussions and supportive of the negotiations underway – but this is a collective bargaining process between the providers and the unions.”
The stalemate is beginning to take its toll on Local 205 and Local 95 members who haven’t had a wage increase in over a decade.
A Day Care Council survey finds that more than half of community-based early childhood education centers have lost a certified teacher to the DOE over the last two years.
“We’re not getting anywhere,” Mitchell said. “I have members who can’t afford to pay bus fare to work. If they do that, they can’t afford to put food on the table for their children. We have members who are on public assistance.”
The “Losing the Best” report calls for immediate pay parity and increased funding for community-based centers, as well as making it easier for parents to identify child care openings.