Give me four years to teach the children and
the seed I have sown will never be uprooted. — Vladimir Lenin
Seattle Mayor Mike MkGinn, a former community organizer whose wife was arrested earlier this month for taking part in a union-sponsored protest that stormed GOP offices, has been attempting to ‘strong arm’ Seattle’s preschools and child care providers into unionizing, according to the Seattle Times.
Announcing his Universal Preschool plan in late September, many may not have realized that his second bullet-point item to “[s]tabilize the pre-kindergarten teacher profession to ensure more children thrive in a stable environment for learning and care” meant that he wanted to unionize pre-kindergarten teachers.
While the city is “not requiring” unionization, McGinn’s Universal Preschool program seems to be modeled after a hybrid form of a project labor agreement–the type that is found in the construction industry in that, in exchange for funding, McGinn wants preschools to establish card-check procedures to unionize them, as well as promises ‘labor peace’ (i.e., no strike–which wouldn’t normally happen unless there is a union present anyway).
If the preschools do not agree to meet with unions by December 1st, McGinn is threatening to withhold funding from them.
The city isn’t requiring day-care workers to join a union, but it is requiring providers to sign a “teacher stabilization agreement” with a union that lays out the framework for organizing the workplace and ensures that day-care centers stay open in the event of a strike or other labor action.
Child-care providers say they had no advance notice of the change in contracting provisions. They also note there was no policy discussion with Seattle Public Schools, where many providers are located, nor with the City Council over the long-term question of how best to raise teacher quality, an important goal if the city adopts universal preschool.
“This is an attempt by the city to provide unions access to child-care workers so they can unionize. It feels like we’re being strong-armed,” said Bob Gilbertson, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Seattle, which employs about 50 teachers in the city at before- and after-school programs and three preschools. The YMCA centers are not unionized, he said.
Coincidentally, he SEIU and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) both endorsed McGinn and contributed to his campaign.
The two unions have joined together under the name Kids First to contact providers and negotiate the stabilization agreements.
“It immediately struck me that SEIU’s involvement in this and its endorsement of McGinn wasn’t a coincidence,” said Dallas Artz, program director for the Latona School Associates, a day-care program at John Stanford International School in Wallingford.
If McGinn continues with his Universal Preschool plan and strong arms providers into making unionization plans as part of the requirements to get funding, there will likely be legal challenges.
Nevertheless, one might wonder how unionizing preschools helps the education of preschoolers in the first place.