Katherine Gregg has more details on the agreement that Governor Gina Raimondo has agreed to give independent child-care providers whose clients receive government subsidies and who have organized under the SEIU:
In the current budget year, which began on July 1, the agreement promises 3-percent reimbursement rate increases, with an additional $10 per week for each infant.
In the second year of the contract, the rates rise at least 1 percent, with additional rate increases of 1 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent pegged to education-levels.
Those working on a GED — or high-school equivalency diploma — would get 2 percent. Those with three college credits or more would get 3 percent. The 4 percent would go to those with a college-level “associate degree,’’ which very few of those in this mostly female workforce have now.
The majority (61 percent) had a GED, but 14 percent did not even have that and only 4 percent of the childcare providers surveyed by SEIU 1199 in January had a college education.
The new contract anticipates expanded “access to college-credit bearing courses in English and Spanish.’’
They also all get free computers for online billing and training purposes. (Whether that means the state will pay for their Internet service, I’ll have to check the contract, which I’ve requested regularly from the state for months.)
Readers may recall recent news about a related program to pay for child care workers to receive college degrees in early childhood education (to add even more unneeded early-grade teachers to the Rhode Island marketplace). That program is not limited to the SEIU members, but they’re included. The Rhode Island Department of Education tells The Current that the total grant is projected to be over $3 million, with $1.8 million passing through T.E.A.C.H. RI, $1.1 million going through the Community College of Rhode Island, and $38,000 going through Rhode Island College.
According to Kathy Gregg, the SEIU members receive a $500 bonus for becoming licensed. Once they’re licensed, providers working out of their homes are eligible for the T.E.A.C.H. scholarships, which (in addition to paying for almost all of the tuition) give participants $585 in “bonus pay,” $50-per-semester travel stipends, and up to around $300 per semester in weekly “paid release time” (that is, approximately another $1,000 in additional cash). As reported above, once they’ve earned college credits, and then a degree, they get more money from the state in pay.
With this package of giveaways handed over by the governor and the General Assembly (which had to approve the budget), it’s not surprising that the SEIU local 1199 is able to demand one of the highest dues rates in the country. According to Gregg, the rate is 2%, capped at $65 per month (or $780 per year). Of all of the similar contracts listed on ChildCareUnionInfo.com that have a set payment or a cap, only Illinois is higher (2.1% capped at $75 per month).
If all 526 members hit the cap, state taxpayers would be sending the SEIU $410,280.