We are 700,000 members strong and each year we commence lobbying after the Governor introduces his budget and ends with the Governor signing a number of pieces of legislation. Every year, hundreds of SEIU members, lobby in Sacramento and in local elected officials’ district offices. We speak to key decision makers about important bills or budget items that affect our union and communities. During these visits, we share our stories and experiences and ask legislators if we can count on their vote.
This year, we are lobbying on issues from workers’ rights, to healthcare, education, child care, and social services. When we lobby, we actively take a role in the political system and serve as a strong voice in creating change. Our expertise as frontline workers and our stories as community members are the most effective way to help humanize a budget item or a piece of legislation.
On February 6, SEIU and UDW members who are child care providers and working parents kicked off the lobbying season in Sacramento. We humanized the need pass AB 378, the Building a Better Early Care and Education System Act, which will allow California’s 40,000 early childhood educators to join child care providers in 11 others states who are able to negotiate with the state for improvements to the early childhood education system. This includes increasing access for low-income children and families who cannot afford the rising cost of child care – now estimated at as much as $14,000 a year per child in California – and helping providers be able to support their own families, since they now do not receive health benefits and earn low wages paid by the state.
Providers shared their stories at a press event and then went into the capitol to lobby legislators. When sharing her story, Tonia McMillian, a family child care provider and SEIU Local 99 member from Bellflower said, “Providers like me know what children need to get the best education in the critical 0-5 years. We’re excited to come together in our union so we can formally be California kids’ best advocates. Given the important responsibilities we have educating children and keeping them safe, we need a seat at the table to negotiate for the things the kids in our care and our own families need.”
Throughout the year, child care providers and many other SEIU members will go to Sacramento and making their voices be heard for the good of our workplaces and communities.