Senate Committee Turns to Childcare Unionization

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Morgan Kittredge, 32, runs a childcare center at her home in Vergennes. Kittredge says union dues – however small – could put her out of business.

By Kirk Carapezza

On Wednesday, a key Senate committee will consider whether to extend collective bargaining rights to childcare providers. The Senate Economic Development Committee will take testimony on a bill that would allow workers to form a union.

Supporters say the measure would improve the quality of early education in Vermont, but self-employed providers are concerned union dues could put them out of business.

Last year the Senate debated whether to allow childcare providers to unionize, but legislation got bottled up in committee – lawmakers never passed a bill. Now, supporters are pushing for a stripped-down version this session.

“This year we’re getting our first shot at a clear hearing,” said Sen. Dick McCormack, D-Windsor, the lead sponsor of the childcare unionization bill.

McCormack said this measure would simply authorize providers to bargain collectively.

“It’s not as though we’re saying, ‘We’re going to make you have a union.’ They’re saying, ‘Could we please have a union?’ And I think the state should say, ‘If you want,’” McCormack explained. “The union still has to convince them that that’s what they want to do.

Listen to this story here and read the bill here.

The Senate Economic Development Committee will hold a public hearing at the Statehouse on Wednesday beginning at 6 p.m.