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Eye On Olympia

Posts tagged: seiu

Losing money on every kid: Lawmakers propose two competing ways to improve child care….

Whoops — forgot to post this earlier. From the print paper:

With state child care subsidies well below the actual cost of caring for enrolled kids, some Spokane-area workers and lawmakers say it’s time to give the industry more clout.

How? By unionizing the child care workers and letting them collectively bargain with Olympia for higher rates, paid training and other improvements.

“In this environment, you have to be able to provide some leverage for us to act on a priority,” said state Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane. He said the normal state budget process, which is essentially a tug of war among lawmakers and interest groups, has let child care rates lag well behind costs.

“We’ve let that model work for a long time,” Marr said. “The fact is that it doesn’t work.”

“It’s basically to give us a voice,” said Marci McLaughlin, owner of a Spokane Valley child care center.

The union structure would be unusual, McLaughlin said, with both workers and child care owners teaming up to bargain with the state. Under the plan, the state would deduct a yet-to-be-determined “representation fee” from payments to child care centers and pay it directly to the union.

Other lawmakers and child care centers say the simplest fix is just to increase the rates.

“If we really want to get money to child care centers, let’s get it to them,” says state Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond. He’s backing a bill, SB 5506, that would boost rates to 75 percent of actual cost.

That simpler plan “bypasses a very expensive and unnecessary middleman,” said Tom Emery, a Puyallup child care center owner. He’s the spokesman for the Washington Child Care Alliance, which includes dozens of centers opposed to the collective bargaining plan.

Governor’s budget: What initiative?

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s budget plan doesn’t include the money to pay for an initiative approved by voters just last month. I-1029 — like the governor herself — was heavily supported by members of the Service Employees International Union.

Here are the details, from the TNT’s Joe Turner.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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