For California Child Care Workers, Inequality Is Baked Into The System

July 20, 2020

By Mariana Dale

LOS ANGELES-The child care workforce is mostly made up of women of color who aren't paid very much — a little over $10 an hour on average nationally, according to one study.

But California child care providers could be on the verge of getting help in their fight for higher wages. This week, balloting is wrapping up in a month-long vote to unionize child care workers.

If the state's providers vote to join the union, Child Care Providers United, it will mark a significant turning point in decades of trying to organize child care workers — and in efforts overall to change a system rooted in inequality.

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"Their reimbursement rate hasn't kept pace with inflation, and just hasn't kept pace with what we know is most important in terms of having a stable, well-trained workforce in early care and education," said State Sen. Holly Mitchell, whose district includes Culver City, Ladera Heights and Westmont, and L.A.'s Crenshaw, downtown, and Florence neighborhoods.

Mitchell formerly ran one of the region's largest child care resource and referral agencies, Crystal Stairs.

"You know, when I first got to the legislature 10 years ago, I had to stop members from referring to them as babysitters," she said.

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