Child-care providers are among the lowest paid wageworkers in the United States. Nationwide, less than 5 percent of child-care providers are represented by labor unions. This article addresses the question: How can family child-care providers be effectively organized? The author describes and analyzes Local 880 Service Employees International Union's effort to organize family child-care providers in Illinois. Adapting the grassroots-organizing model that they developed to organize homecare workers, Local 880 has over 2,200 signed authorization cards and over 1,500 members in the family child-care union. Even without formal recognition, the union won a pay increase for providers in 1999 and has filed numerous successful grievances about disputed back pay. Keys to 880's success in organizing family child-care providers were: (1) prior experience in homecare organizing, especially non-NLRB organizing, (2) experience with grassroots organizing, and maintaining unions without recognition, and (3) ability to influence statewide elections and legislative issues by becoming involved in direct politics and joining coalitions.
Brooks, F. (2005). New turf for organizing: Family child care providers. Labor Studies Journal, 29(4), 45-64. doi: 10.1177/0160449X0502900404