Paterson OK’s unionization of home-based child care providers

by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

On October 4, Governor Paterson signed S.7451/A.10764, a bill that allows home-based child care providers to unionize — adding more than 65,000 child care providers to the already powerful Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).

Paterson’s signature codifies an executive order issued by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer back in 2007. As E.J. McMahon wrote at the time:

With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Spitzer has cleared the way for 60,000 home-based day-care providers to join New York’s growing quasi-public-sector labor cartel. And in the process … he has further undermined his ability to control the cost of government in the Empire State.

(snip)

The providers in question are independent contractors, subsidized by government grants but hired by parents. Some are licensed day-care operators; others are friends or relatives of the low-income working moms whose kids they watch. In recent years, unions across the country have been eying these informal caregiver networks as a new frontier for building membership rolls and political influence.

Of course, the law is a tremendous favor to two of the state’s most influential unions. And like most such favors, it adds to taxpayer costs — up to $100 million in New York City alone, according to Mayor Bloomberg’s estimates alone. Moreover, as McMahon pointed out three years ago:

But the impact won’t be limited to state and local budgets. By raising the compensation floor for a large number of day-care providers, Spitzer’s … gift to the UFT and CSEA will tend to push up day-care expenses for all working parents in New York – whether or not they receive government subsidies. Ironically, more parents will have an incentive to use unlicensed, unregulated day-care providers who don’t accept government-subsidized payments – the only group not subject to Spitzer’s order.

The home-care providers won’t be considered government employees (not yet, anyway), but as the Albany Times Union reported, they will be covered by “agency shop” provisions that force them to pay union dues even if they don’t want to join the union.

In an example of the Legislature’s habit of bipartisan pandering to public employee unions, the bill passed the closely divided state Senate by a 57-4 margin. The four “no” votes were cast by Senate Republicans (including Minority Leader Dean Skelos) — leaving 25 other GOP members on the anti-taxpayer, pro-union side. Atypically, there was more dissent in the Assembly, where 35 members opposed the bill.

The unions are predictably cheering — and, just as predictably, pushing harder for an increase in federal day care subsidies.

Originally Published: NY Public Payroll Watch

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- E.J. McMahon is the Research Director at the Empire Center for Public Policy.