RI bill would allow home-based day care workers to form union

Rhode Island home-based day care workers would be allowed to form a union under a bill being considered at the State House.

About 600 day care providers are paid by the state to care for children of low-income workers.

Providers said the bill is not about getting more money. They say if they can organize, they will increase the professionalism of their work and do a better job.

"We will be able to negotiate. We'll be able to collaborate with other child care providers and help the kids to be able to grow and to learn," said child care provider Araminta McIntosh.

The bill would also set up a parents' council.

"So parents like me who are invested in this process will be able to have a voice and collaborate with the state because we as parents can also offer ideas and suggestions to make the system more efficient and more productive," said Claudio Castellanos, of Providence, who has twin boys.

Opponents of the bill say they fear it will increase the cost of the program, which serves about 2,000 children.

"It's like saying all the barbers and hairdressers want to unionize, but they're all independent business people. It only seems like an opportunity to extract benefits from the state, benefits we cannot afford. So they're just independent businesses. I just don't understand it. It doesn't make sense to me," said state Sen. Ed O'Neill.

The bill would not make day care workers state employees.