My job as a family child care provider for the past 21 years is the lowest paying job I have ever had. I put my earnings right back into my business and what is left is not a lot. But the best part of this job is working with children. It is extremely rewarding to see all of your work reciprocated back to you instantly.
Being a part of the SEIU Local 99 Family Child Care Providers Union is one of the best moves I could have made. It helped me see that we are stronger together. Together, we can fight injustice and win.
Over the years, I have shared conversations with state and federal lawmakers that have led to bills, and finally to laws that have made life easier for people in my community and parents of the children in my care. I have stood in solidarity with other providers and shared stories about the wonderful work we do with legislators and even with our governor.
Women make up nearly two-thirds of all low wage workers in this country. When we come together and bargain collectively, we can raise wages and gain valuable benefits that can improve our lives and the lives of our families. For example, child care and home care workers in states across the nation have come together as members of SEIU to secure raises that lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
I have seen doors that were once bolted shut, slowly crack open and are now opening a bit wider. Together, women in a seemingly “common” position such as child care provider can do uncommonly great things that make life better for all of us and our families.
About The Author: Tonia McMillian is a California child care provider and working mom.
This blog post first appeared on SEIU.org on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Reprinted with permission.