Child care workers vote to join union in Rhode Island - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

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Child care workers vote to join union in Rhode Island

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

mcurtis@abc6.com

Home–based child care workers in Rhode Island cheered as they voted by a margin to unionize.

Supporters say it will make things better for workers and children.

"I don't think you can put a price on the value of having safety and quality care and quality education for your children and for the women, predominantly women who provide those services," said Maria Cone, CEO of the Women's Fund of Rhode Island.

The ballot counting came after a controversial week of voting.

Members from the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity say they were blocked from monitoring the vote.

"They were forcibly kept by armed State Troopers and local police at over 200 feet and some were even threatened with arrest. We think that's totally unwarranted," said Mike Stenhouse from the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "The next step in the process is for the union to negotiate a contract with the state on behalf of the child care workers."

The workers are private day care operators, but do receive state subsidies. The union's impact on taxpayers is hotly debated.

"Home care workers are not state employees. In no way are they state employees. Any benefits that are negotiated on their behalf would cost the taxpayers further. And our state just can't afford anything new right now," said Mike Stenhouse from the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

"So it's not going to cost the state anything. We are not asking for state insurance. We are not asking for the state to give us any benefits. That's not what we're about," Rosemary Raygava.

It's possible the vote could be challenged in court.

The final vote was 390 to unionize; 19 against.

 

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