Child care workers at Selwyn Community Child Care Centre in Toronto are in collective bargaining with their employer. The workers at Selwyn are part of a group of over 600 child care workers organized with CUPE 2484 across twenty-eight child care centres.
Across the entire union local, among all these workplaces, the workers at Selwyn are by far the lowest paid, with wages ranging from $18-21 per hour. As the cost of living rises and as the child care sector deals with a workforce crisis, the workers at Selwyn are fighting against poverty wages and stressful conditions to make sure they have what they need to serve families and their community.
Raising the floor, raising Selwyn Workers
Since last year, CUPE 2484’s Raising the Floor campaign has been a force in changing the terms of child care work across Ontario. By coordinating collective bargaining efforts across child care centres, workers are better able to leverage their power across the sector. Among the campaign’s key demands are staples for improving working conditions and ensuring that workers across the sector have what they need to take care of children, with paid sick days, paid programming time, and higher wages among them. CUPE 2484’s members understand that the workforce crisis in child care is a symptom of a long-running undervaluing of child care and the workers who make it happen, and as the name suggests, Raising the Floor is their way of improving conditions for all child care workers and making this work sustainable.
In the meantime, however, the workers and families at Selwyn have borne the brunt of this child care crisis. The wages these workers earn (and, for many of them, on part-time hours) for the intense, specialized work that child care demands are not fair compensation for their labour. It is barely enough to live on as we navigate the current cost-of-living crisis. While the workers do have paid sick days, they also report an overwhelming pressure from management to not take them, resulting in a lot of sick workers running themselves ragged because they fear for their jobs. And when the work is intense and the pay is poor, professional development becomes almost impossible. Taking any time for yourself is a pipe dream, much less to do unpaid work. As a result, over the last few years, the worker turnover rate at Selwyn is nearly 100 percent.
The Raising the Floor campaign has brought positive changes across the sector. CUPE 2484 reports that in their most recent collective agreements, child care workers are winning better deals. Wages, paid sick days, and paid programming time are all going up for other child care workers. It seems other child care centres are getting the message that better conditions for workers means better child care, better families, and better communities. And yet, at Selwyn, the employer keeps tabling wage scales that would keep workers in poverty.
Strike back for decent work in child care
The workers at Selwyn have had enough. Their most recent strike vote resulted in a 100 percent vote in favour of striking with 100 percent participation in the vote, an astounding figure especially in child care. Recently, posters have gone up around the child care centre garnering support for the workers by asking parents and fellow community members to send a message to their boss that Selwyn workers need a better deal. With a strike date set for April 17, the workers are unfazed: they are ready to fight, and they are ready to win.
The workers are not the only ones at Selwyn who understand what is at stake. Recently, the workers took the time to talk to parents about the issues at their workplace during pick-up and drop-off. Nearly every parent signed a petition supporting the workers, adding that they fully support the workers’ demands and will do whatever they can to help the workers win the wages and conditions they deserve. Parents know that it’s workers, not bosses, who care for their children, and the workers have their full support. As the strike date looms, the workers are asking for support.
You can join their fight by sending an email with this link and by sharing their posts on social media. Together, we can show their boss the power of solidarity and let them know that we won’t back down until these workers get a better deal.
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