Early Educators’ Union a Model for Adult Ed?

Early childhood educators in Massachusetts are organizing a radical new kind of union. The MECEU (Mass. Early Childhood Educators Union) would bargain directly with the Commonwealth, rather than with each individual employer. Our field of ABE has a similar profile: hundreds of programs, some private, some based at community-based organizations, many with only a handful of employees. Could we look to the early educators’ union as a model for organizing adult educators?

How would it work?

  • Early childhood educators under the MECEU would bargain directly with the Commonwealth rather than individual employers.
  • In early education, directors are also teachers, so directors would be included in the bargaining unit.
  • Since this is so different from a traditional union, MECEU is seeking legislation to allow this new structure.*
  • What will they bargain for?

    The MECEU would bargain for

    • compensation tied to PD/credentials,
    • continuing education, and
    • benefits.

    They do not plan to bargain seniority rights or a wage scale (since this would be a statewide contract rather than a workplace-specific contract).

    Employees already unionized in a traditional union could participate in both.

    Where would the money come from?

    These improvements would require new state money, not taking funding from elsewhere. As a state, we already pay a price for kids who don’t get good services.

    How does Early Childhood Education (ECE) compare to ABE?

    In both fields, staff are highly regulated by the state. We are employed at a variety of different employers, small and large. Some important differences are that ABE students don’t pay for services. For many programs, our funding comes directly from the state, rather than indirectly in the form of childcare vouchers as happens in ECE.

    Let’s talk about it!

    Does the model work for adult education?
    What issues would we want to bargain?
    How would we get started?

    Get involved in organizing the ABE field!

    Come to our meeting on Friday, April 20, at 10:00 a.m.

    at the Jamaica Plain Public Library
    12 Sedgewick St.
    Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
    (in the basement)

     

     

    *The NLRB allows workers to organize to bargain with their employers. But since this new model would not bargain with individual employers but rather directly with the state (because it regulates these programs), a new legal framework is needed. A bill before the Mass. House and Senate would allow MECEU to bargain directly with the state and would allow teachers and directors to be in the same bargaining unit.

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6 Responses to “Early Educators’ Union a Model for Adult Ed?”

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  4. Jana says:

    Hi Laura
    Of course this union would include PTers! That’s the beauty of it- it’s non traditional and the issues we would bargain for wouldn’t be workplace specific- they would be directly with the state. For example, the MECEU is hoping to bargain for compensation from the state in the form of a quarterly bonus or stipend to supplement the rate (whatever it is) the each individual center pays.

    Also, having a union gives us a stronger position to bargain for and lobby for increased funding for ABE. I hope you get involved in the campaign!

  5. Laura Landy says:

    Anything in the wind on the status of part-time workers in a future union? As a once and probably future PTer who has to work at two places to make ends meet, I’d hope that a union would include us! What I’d really like is for the industry to create more opportunities for FT employment, and perhaps a union could help with that?

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