History of the Seattle Worthy Wages Movement by Rebecca Adrian, Ann Pelo, Lauren Tozzi, and Barb Wiley 1988 - The Child Care Director’s Association of Greater Seattle (CDAGS) laid the groundwork for the current Worthy Wage Day with their first “We All Depend on Child Care” parade. Each annual parade focused media attention on the need for quality, affordable care. Children, staff, and parents marched through downtown Seattle. 1989 - The release of The National Child Care Staffing Study. Among the study’s findings: “The most important predictor of the quality of care children receive…is staff wages.” 1990 - The theme of the annual parade: “Worthy Work, Worthless Wages.” Also occurring this year was a two-day leadership retreat that built on the experiences of teachers and family child care providers, titled “Finding Our Voices” that provided the incentive to begin the Seattle Worthy Wages Task Force. 1991 - A watershed year! CDAGS members voted unanimously to encourage child care programs to close for at least half a day on Worthy Wage Day to make the staffing crisis more visible. The crisis was effectively passed on to parents, and through them, to employers and government. Marcy Whitebook of The Child Care Employee Project (now at CCW) spoke at the rally. Many unions were represented. AND – the video “Worthy Work, Worthless Wages was begun. The grassroots response to the video motivated other cities to close centers on WW Day too AND created the national Worthy Wage movement (now in 41 states)!!! The city funded empowerment workshops and focus groups that used the “Minnesota Standards” of working conditions, pay, and benefits as a model for a new system of child care. Allegations of “price fixing” and threats of anti-trust lawsuits here and in Minnesota ended the discussions for awhile. 1992 - The parade that year was a mock funeral with coffins and headstones listing the centers forced to close that year and the list read at the rally. Seattle Mayor Norm Rice formed the Child Care Staffing Task Force after teachers, providers, and parents filled a council hearing room and spoke passionately of the need for solutions to the staffing crisis. The two-year mission of the Task Force was to examine issues of compensation, quality, and affordability of child care, and to make policy recommendations to the City of Seattle. 1993 - Child care teachers spoke at the rally and recited a rap-chant about why we are in this field despite low wages. The child care community gathered for discussion of the City’s Staffing Task Force action proposals and voted on the top four. One of the proposals – the Business Child Care Initiative at Child Care Resources, has helped centers redirect funds into salaries and least four centers have raised wages a dollar an hour because of their efforts. 1994 - Child Care teachers of The Seattle Worthy Wages Task Force take over responsibility for planning Worthy Wages Day. Karen Nussbaum, Dir. of the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Dept. of Labor, sought out the Task Force and spoke at the morning rally. Also on the agenda: the launching of the “Standards Project.” The primary goal of the project was to establish standards for working conditions, wages, benefits and the education of staff, and to get individual centers/homes to adopt those standards. A Task Force developed survey of standards was presented on Worthy Wage Day and used as a discussion tool in afternoon workshops. Along with parent and directors’ workshops a union workshop was offered for the first time. Fall 1994: Presentation of the Career Development Plan at Seattle Central Community College. Developed by early ed. instructors and trainers, the plan would set the stage for education standards being adopted by the state for teachers and providers. It was proposed starting in 1995 as a bill in the State Legislature. 1995 - First “May 1st” Worthy Wages Day, titled “It’s a Crisis of Responsibility.” Only one workshop/training was offered this year: Worthy Wages Leaders and Community Activists from other fields co-led small discussion groups about how we could take steps for change. Every attendee wrote an action commitment for the next year on a tracing of their foot and this was mailed to them in the fall as a reminder. Results of the first year of Standards’ Surveys reported. Later 1995: the Seattle Worthy Wages Task Force receives a grant to do organizing and training from A Territory Resource Foundation. 1996 - WW Day theme: “It’s All of Our Responsibility.” Rally in Westlake Plaza highlighted by speech of Irene Hull - child care provider during WWII. A new legislative workshop was offered in the PM with representatives and lobbyists giving pointers. The Task Force’s grant with ATR is renewed. 1997 - WW Day National theme: “Good Child Care Jobs = Good Care for Children.” At a Steinbruck Park Rally a “Poopy Diaper” award was presented to Microsoft, for the lack of response to our request for setting up on-site child care. Presentation of the compiled standards sent in by postcards by the many members of the Nat. Center for the Child Care Workforce, similar to the Minnesota Standards of 1991. A “Standards’ Auction” rewarded longtime teachers for their dedication and quality centers for their positive policies with prizes. 1998 - Seattle Worthy Wages Task Force Members vote at the January meeting to come together in partnership with District 925 of the Service Employees Union to partake in an organizing project of child care centers in King County. “The Child Care Union Project” is kicked off on Worthy Wages Day with a march to a Westlake Rally and a speech by AFL/CIO Secretary/Treasurer Richard Trumpka. In the PM the WA State Jobs With Justice Workers’ Rights Board heard testimony from those in the child care field. In 1999 bargaining began on a Master Contract for Child Care Centers. 1999 – A grant from The Tides Foundation enables outreach to family child care providers. The Seattle Worthy Wages steering committee coordinates LEAP leadership and advocacy classes following a national curriculum in fall 1999 and spring 2000. 1999 WWDAY celebration focuses on unionizing. 2000 – WWDAY offers STARS workshops for the first time and ends with a Westlake Rally. The group assisted Denison University professor Mary Tuominen in conducting a study survey of Seattle family child care providers during summer 2000. 2001 – Jobshadowing and STARS workshops offered again. 2002 – Government forum with local officials as speakers on WWDAY plus workshops. 2003 - Members of Seattle Worthy Wages, The Child Care Guild/SEIU Local 925, LEAP leadership planning group, and The Alliance for Family Home Care Providers unite in planning WWDAY workshops. 2004 – The WWDAY planners of the previous year are joined by members of a newly reformatted national Worthy Wages group, now known locally as “The Child Care Workforce Alliance of WA”. “Demand Respect” is the slogan for a day of marching and rallies, speak-outs, and workshops in downtown Seattle.
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