9:28 PM Eastern - Monday, May 28, 2012

The Ripple Effect of Change #default

I started taking care of kids in my home when my daughter was just a year old. Childcare seemed like a good way to make a living while staying at home and raising my own daughter. Now she's fourteen and I have a thriving family childcare business in central Seattle. What has really kept me in this work is my commitment to and belief in the power of the union to create a more just world for my daughter, the kids I take care of, and all working people.

As childcare providers, we're really kind of the bedrock, the foundation of any community. The quality of childcare has strong ripple effects that start with the provider and extend outward to affect the entire state. For example, when I first got licensed and started my childcare business, childcare providers didn't have health insurance plans available to them. Once we formed our union, we won healthcare in our first contract. It is absolutely essential that childcare providers have healthcare, because if we get sick we need to be able to go to the doctor to protect the kids we care for and their parents. Similarly, we need to be protected from all of the illnesses that our kids might bring to us. Right now there's a whooping cough epidemic in Washington State, and the vaccine is quite expensive if you're uninsured. Having health insurance is absolutely essential to maintaining healthy providers, kids, parents and communities.

Childcare providers are also vital for the entire local economy of a city. When parents, and especially single parents, have affordable childcare then they can go to work, contribute, and be productive members of society. But without affordable childcare, many parents would have to cut back their hours to part-time or quit their jobs altogether, lowering the quality of life for working families and putting a drag on economic growth overall.

It's sad and misguided that anti-worker politicians are threatening to cut childcare subsidies in Washington and many other states, and portray government workers as somehow slothful. We need schools, healthcare, libraries, the post office, good roads and bridges, art and cultural institutions. That is what government is all about, pooling our resources together for the betterment of all. When I sit here at the Public Services Day of the SEIU Convention, I see many types of government workers around my table who are all very dedicated and hard working. They believe in public service, that's why they do this work.

It is deeply reinvigorating to strategize and plan at our convention with my fellow public service workers. I can feel the ripple effect from my table spreading out to all other SEIU members, to the union movement at large, and to state houses, the White House and beyond. All these ripples of change will converge to form a wave of social justice powerful enough to change our country.

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